Diecast #281: PC Building, Fallen Order, Mailbag

By Shamus Posted Monday Dec 2, 2019

Filed under: Diecast 103 comments

We are very quickly running out of year! I need to spend the next couple of weeks in a mad panic, trying to make some kind of sense of the whole thing so I can write my end-of-year thoughts.

In a fit of uncharacteristic productivity, we managed to clear out the mailbag this week. As always, if you’ve questions for the show, the email is in the header.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:

00:00 Building a sub $300 “Gaming” PC

05:13 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Just finished my second playthrough. Short review: Combat is fantastic. Getting around and general level flow is horrendous and frustrating. (The constant one-way gates mixed with the sparse save points and lack of fast travel really make the whole “collection and exploration” part of the game a chore.)

14:56 RIP Steam Controller, General controller discussion

26:54 Unlock the King

What an interesting idea for a game, although the first 50 puzzles are a bit toothless. It’s nice, gentle fun.

29:18 Running Cat 6 Through the Attic

It always seems like it should be straightforward. It never is.

33:24 Mailbag: Toxicity of Internet Discourse

Shamus –
You’ve said before that the a problem with internet arguments is that civil discussions can easily get derailed by a tiny minority of vocal, rude participants that poison the conversation by changing the tone. Is that a fair summary of your opinion?

I read in the news a while ago that agents of a foreign government had made a coordinated effort to do exactly that. They posed as normal Americans online and they injected hostility and extremism into the discourse. Do you see a connection between this news and your personal observations?

I think I remember reading about this in several different places but, for reference, here’s one example of the news I’m talking about: https://medium.com/s/story/the-trolls-within-how-russian-information-operations-infiltrated-online-communities-691fb969b9e4
– DTor

35:52 Mailbag: Mailing Lists

Hi Shamus and Paul,

I’ve been following videos on YT channel, and noticed that while you suggest subscribing (way ahead of you!:), you also actually explained reasoning behind it (algorithm hacking).

Lately several other youtube creators I follow suggested something different: subscribing to their mailing list.

Most notable example with explaination is CGP Grey (which I know you follow too):

And I find it interesting that subscribing in that fashion at some expense of doing it via youtube system (surely some people won’t want to get notification twice) seem to conflict with algo-gaming rationale.

I’ve been following youtube via notification emails exclusively for years, and can attest that it’s not great at delivering these, as I’m
sure you know too (pretty sure it happened a few times for me with Bob Case’s already rare-gem videos). So wonder about what you guys think on the topic?

Cheers, Mike.

11:54 Mailbag: Procgen Stealth

Dear Shamus and Paul:

Please can you wang on about the procedurally generated stealth game Shadows of Doubt:


(I’m not involved in this game, I’d just like to hear your thoughts)


Link (YouTube)

47:07 Mailbag: Single-Save games


A couple of loosely related questions

1. No idea if you ever played or will play- Vampyr or not, but I hope the question will make sense nonetheless. In short, it’s an RPG (a RPG?) where you play as a british doctor in post-WW1 London who recently became a vampire (a vampyr?) and trying to survive.

So, one of the ideas of this game, is that doesn’t allow you to have multiple saves during the playthrough. And you can’t manually save — it’s all autosaves. Just like Alpha Protocol, just without time restriction on dialogue choices. Another idea — one of the ways to gain additional XP is to drink an NPC’s blood (and killing them in the process), if you desire. To make person’s blood more… potent (I assume) you have to unlock «facts» about the person by either talking to this person, talking to other people about this person or doing quests involving this person. Each NPC has a set number facts, that you can look in the menu (this guy has, so far, 3 locked facts, this lady has 2 unlocked facts and 2 locked ones, etc). Now…

I’ve played a couple evenings a couple weeks ago, enjoyed the start of the game a lot. I met a claustrophobic guy and in one of the dialogs you must guess the reason for his condition. I chose poorly and the menu showed that this fact is lost and no longer unclockable. And because of the save system, I can’t reload a save now. I’m almost sure, that the game didn’t tell me beforehand, that I can prevent myself from unlocking facts. I’m planning to play as a pacifist, so missing XP isn’t the issue here, but missing parts of the content is bothering me and prevents me of continuing with the game. I’m almost wanting to restart the game anew.

So… The question for you is this. We all want experiments with the gameplay, to keep things fresh. And I respect the choice of devs to make this save system and see the intent here. But… I don’t think the experiment is a successful one, to be honest. What do you think about this save system, and which save systems you find most interesting yourself?

This email continues in the next section…

54:14 Mailbag: Standardized Controls

2. In a recent diecast, in the question about game classics, you noted, that games that you can name have bad controls. Or rather non-standardized controls. But is it a bad thing per se? Two years ago I played enchanced edition of System Shock, the one that had mouse look. And yeah, having a mouse look is cool. And the game is great (probably one of the best games I played in recent years). But the most satisfying part of the game for me was the weapon’s reload process. You disengage the mouse look quickly move the mouse cursor to the bottom left corner, switch tabs, select your ammo, move it to the weapon icon, engage the mouse look. Yes its clunky, but in the heat of the moment you feel like you reloaded the weapon yourself (despite it not being done with VR). Now its mostly press R (or X, or square). Or press a button in the exact moment to make it instant if the game fees fancy.

Do you think, that more games should strive to go away from standardized control scheme to enchance the experience in some way? E.g., do old-school Resident Evil’s tank controls, if you feel that it works for your game. Or may be it’s for the better that games are more or less unified with their control scheme? I honestly don’t know.

Best regards, DeadlyDark

1:03:06 Mailbag: Taking Things Apart

Hello Shamus and Paul,

Last week you talked about Google Stadia and its controller. You mentioned it felt cheap and I was immediately reminded of this video of Gamers Nexus where they take the thing apart.

As you can see it’s ridiculously sealed and they had to use all sorts of tools to open it. (Like a heatgun and even a dremel)

My question is: What is the most difficult piece of electronics (anything from controllers to PC cases) you’ve ever had to open/disassemble and the wierdest piece of equipment you had to use?

With kind regards,


Link (YouTube)


From The Archives:

103 thoughts on “Diecast #281: PC Building, Fallen Order, Mailbag

  1. Nick Pitino says:

    Oh man, the two photos of that PC.

    I feel those photos.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I feel like that computer’s going to slowly pull that shelf down. ^^;

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Thanks guys. Big mood.
        The shelf is a “floating” design, anchored into the studs with two 1/2″ lag bolts. bottom left corner here:
        I think it will be fine, as long as no one tries climbing on it.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Back when shelves were built to actually hold things, rather than just look pretty. :P

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            Yes, those halcyon days of a year and a half ago when my brother-in-law gave us some left-over solid wood planks that I turned into shelves.
            I would have really preferred using a more sturdy mounting method so you could climb on them, but I have to admit this way does look nicer.

  2. Joe says:

    Dark Forces and Jedi Knight had sprawling and confusing layouts, though Outcast and Academy mostly toned it down. Indeed, I never actually bought Jedi Knight, because I couldn’t get through the demo without checking a walkthrough. So Fallen Order is carrying on a proud tradition.

    Even apart from outside interference, I find a lot of internet discourse has gotten very polarised the last couple of years. Maybe my skepticism is broken, but what would have been trolling ten years ago now sometimes seems like a believable stance. Anyone else feel like that?

    1. Geebs says:

      There’s a much more heterogeneous population online than there used to be; it basically makes sense that people should therefore be more careful about what they say. Similarly, the use of English is so widespread online that it doesn’t reliably indicate that somebody using it will have the same cultural background and expectations. It’s not really surprising that people get into stupid fights more often.

      That said, what normal (non-geek) people are prepared to do and say online, while broadcasting their real name and personal information, confuses and terrifies me.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        There was a great example of this a few years ago: there were a series of roits in the UK – ostensibly about a social issue, but mostly teenagers causing trouble, breaking stuff and looting shops.

        Anyway, in the wake of all this, the police found a new way to catch some of the looters: more than one complete genius decided to post selfies of themselves with all their stolen loot on Facebook.

        Some people are just not destined to be successful criminals, I guess.

        1. The Wind King says:

          `Anyway, in the wake of all this, the police found a new way to catch some of the looters: more than one complete genius decided to post selfies of themselves with all their stolen loot on Facebook.`

          This is not new, there’s a Youtube show I follow called “WTFIWWY” (“What The Fuck Is Wrong With You?”) which deals with news stories about bizarre, stupid, or common sense defying stories, it’s been going since 2000, and started making recorded episodes back in 2010.

          Ever since facebook was unleashed on the web like a virulent plague, morons have been posting selfies of their crimes on there.

          My favourite is the two bank robbers who got away clean, no I.D, no cameras, no license plates, before posting just the worst selfies up, (One of them was shoving a roll of bills in his mouth like a sandwich, and if you know *anything* about the hygenic state of money… *shudders) which let the cops catch them immediately.

    2. Narkis says:

      Yeah, I’ve noticed things getting worse too. Personally, I blame certain events 4-5 years ago for the decline.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Germany beating Brazil 7-1? Online discourse had already long degraded by the time that happened. If anything, it was the proliferation of Twitter with the 140 character limit that removed the possibility of having a nuanced conversation without having to jump through hoops.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Like tmtvl I’d say events like the ‘football match’ 4-5 years ago to are symptoms as much as causes.
          Twitter’s another explaination – see Shamus’ article – and the way outrage is so great at generating ‘engagement’ are others.

          Also, though, it was at that time I began to really notice something unique about the internet: whatever you think, you will be able to find a community of people somewhere on the internet that agree with you and reinforce your views.
          From conspiracy theories to niche hobbies to [INSERST RADICAL / CONTORVERSIAL POLITICS HERE] to quack science to the just downright illegal, your people are out there somewhere online, willing to affirm your belief and support you.

          It amazes me.

  3. Platypus says:

    On the saving question im sure alpha protocol did allow you to pop a manual save before each mission if you wanted to start again and tbh i think if your gonna autosave after each decision you should probably allow manual saves so players can go back if they really cant bare going on after making a dumb dumb move. For me I only load da save on narrative decisions if A. I didnt mean to press that, B.The game didnt clearly express what pressing say ‘Angry’ meant, so i become quite put out when it means bitch slapping the waiter cause he put milk instead of sugar in ma tea. or C. The choice makes you play a shitty gameplay section that i cant be fudged doing. Stopping me from reloading in those scenarios is a good way to peeve me off

  4. Leipävelho says:

    That’s one beautiful computer

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Get out of here, Beholder – back to the lands of Gygax with you!

  5. GoStu says:

    I have to wonder. If your YouTube channel is in need of more content, why not slap a branded graphic together with this audio, and then upload the cast to YouTube as well? The relevant imagery could be put into the video at the appropriate times.

    I have some frustrations with the current format; namely that I cannot make a comment on the page without it interrupting and restarting the audio. Scrubbing back to a certain point in the audio itself is annoying too. I find myself trying to remember what I wanted to say about the first segment(s) and then forgetting as I listen deeper in the podcast. Alternately, I make a comment early, then get frustrated in scrubbing, and don’t bother trying to listen to the rest.

    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

      Just download the mp3. Or open another browser window and use that one to comment.

      1. tmtvl says:

        No! Download the OGG, it’s the technically superior format! Not to incite a flamewar or anything 0:-).

        1. Echo Tango says:

          The OGG is usually smaller, so it is actually better. It’s about…5-10 years newer, though. :)

          Today it’s about 75% the size of the mp3.

    2. tmtvl says:

      You can download the show or open a second tab for commenting.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Browsers don’t have tabs by default, though. I think the target audience for browsers doesn’t want that option taking up space by default. Compared to the mess of malware browser toolbars that that demographic used to get plagued with, I think the small bit of space for such a useful feature, is a good trade-off. ^^;

        1. tmtvl says:

          ? Gecko and WebKit/WebEngine have tab support (I think Trident too, but who uses a Trident-based browser?), so I don’t think any graphical browser lacks support for it.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            They support it, but don’t show it by default. At least, not the last time I looked at Firefox or Safari. I think Chrome might default to always showing the tab bar now.

            1. tmtvl says:

              But you can just right click, open in new tab, right? The tab bar is only hidden with a single tab.

              1. Echo Tango says:

                You start with a single tab, so it’s hidden to start with. That’s my whole point – you can access more tabs if you already know what tabs are. People who don’t know what a tab is won’t see them (which would make this a self-reinforcing system), and I’m pretty sure they’re the target demographic.

    3. Lino says:

      +1 I just have two duplicate tabs open, I press play on one of them, and use the other one to comment. Although I agree that going backwards and forwards in the recording is quite annoying with this player.

  6. Lino says:

    Paul’s PC looks really neat, but aren’t you concerned about dust? Isn’t that the main purpose of having a box?

    14:56 – When it comes to controllers, I’m the same as Paul – I’ve used keyboard and mouse since I can remember, and using a controller is very confusing for me.

    35:52 – What I hate is when YouTube keeps offering me videos I’ve either already watched, or videos by creators I already follow, and it’s infuriating – I know who these people are, and I know where I can find their content when I’m in the mood for it. Show me something new, you over-bloated, privacy-invading juggernaut of a cesspit!

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Re: useless algorithmic suggestions. I think it’d be a decent experiment, to allow people to fiddle with some knobs for the auto-content. Maybe a control for allowed randomness, or how different it is from the demographic they’ve boxed you into. Or a control for how old the videos could be. A flat cutoff wouldn’t be too good for casual watching, but a bell-curve thing, where you could slide the median to the left or right would work, for randomly selecting videos.

      Re: controllers. The biggest thing for controllers with me, is that I don’t have the manual dexterity to use the analog sticks on first-party controllers. I’ve got big construction-worker hands[1], and they’re not springy enough for me to use. My Logitech controller seems fine, though. :)

      [1] Well, compared to non-construction workers, at least.

      1. Lino says:

        I salivate at the thought of being able to control YouTube’s recommendations in the manner you suggested. Whenever they’ve given me a recommendation outside my comfort zone, it’s usually led to me discovering a content creator I’ve really liked and then proceeded to follow closely (e.g. TierZoo, Wendover and CarlSagan42, to name a few). The problem is, that if I have the audacity to watch a couple of videos by a content creator who I don’t follow anymore, just to see what they’ve been up to, I get inundated with crap I’ve either already seen, or know how to find myself. This has led me to feeling like there are a total of 10 creators on YouTube that are worth watching.

        However, I don’t think they’ll ever implement your sane solution. The main reason being that it could give people insight into how the algorithm works which will make exploiting it much easier.

        But I guess, it’s a good thing, because their awful system has led me to gravitate to other types of entertainment. Having that level of control would probably make me addicted to the platform to the point of abandoning all my other hobbies :D

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          I’d settle for being able to implement simple configurable rules like “Don’t show me videos from this channel”, “Don’t show videos with titles matching this regex”.

          Now that I think about it, with Youtube having implemented a longer list of recommendations in the sidebar, it should be possible to make a browser extension that filters according to those sorts of user-visible metrics: if video #3 is from a filtered creator, just vanish it and shift up videos #3 through N. I wonder how hard it is to interact with the Youtube GUI, I might actually try that…

            1. Lino says:

              Hmm… I think I’ll give that a try. Thanks for sharing!

              1. Steve C says:

                They exist. Don’t work. So don’t expend brainpower on it.
                No matter how many times you click “Not interested”, youtube will still constantly offer it to you.

                I’d be happy with a “I’ve already seen this video. I don’t want to watch it again!” button. All my youtube recommendations fall into the same two categories- already seen it, or never want to see it.

      2. John says:

        The biggest thing for controllers with me, is that I don’t have the manual dexterity to use the analog sticks on first-party controllers. I’ve got big construction-worker hands[1], and they’re not springy enough for me to use. My Logitech controller seems fine, though.

        I’ve got both a Logitech F310 pad and a first-party wired XBox 360 pad. They’re approximately the same size. If anything, the Logitech is a little smaller. I don’t think that the thumbsticks on one pad are springier than the thumbsticks the other. I will say that the d-pad on the XBox pad feels more robust than the d-pad on the Logitech and that the XBox pad is weightier and more solid-feeling overall.

        The biggest difference between the two pads is that the F310 uses a Playstation-style layout with symmetrically-placed analog sticks. The result is that–for me–the F310 is slightly better for games where the d-pad is the primary or preferred directional input device and the XBox pad is slightly better for games where the thumbstick is the primary directional input device. In practical terms, the Logitech is better for fighting games–I have a hard time doing quick, precise directional inputs with a thumbstick–and the XBox pad is better for everything else. The differences aren’t huge though. I do just about as well in fighting games with the XBox pad as with the Logitech, at least once my muscle-memory adjusts appropriately.

        1. default_ex says:

          Except for the way the Xbox 360 DPad is mounted doesn’t give you any real reference for your fingers to quickly and easily find the cardinal directions. It’s the only controller where I struggle to hit diagonals with an acceptable degree of accuracy and often hit a diagonal when trying to hit a cardinal direction.

          Other than that the Xbox 360 sticks are flimsy. Had to replace mine with the sticks out of a PS2 controller long ago because when you come in from doing heavy work, it’s very easy to snap the thumb clear off the stick. Any other brand has a steel post running up through the stick’s z-axis that the thumb seat into but Xbox360 is ABS plastic all the way through and even the carriage under it doesn’t have the steel cage that keeps other analog sticks rigid over extended use.

          Great controller once you replace those sticks and add some notches to the hat switch to easily find cardinal directions.

          1. John says:

            Except for the way the Xbox 360 DPad is mounted doesn’t give you any real reference for your fingers to quickly and easily find the cardinal directions.

            That’s why I prefer Playstation-style controller layout for fighting games. When your thumb has to extend upward to reach the d-pad, you input “up” by moving your thumb up. When your thumb has to extend to the right to reach the d-pad, you input “up” by moving your thumb either to the left or counter-clockwise, depending on how you look at it. I started using the XBox pad to play Street Fighter IV while my Logitech was temporarily out of commission with a defective right shoulder button. I struggled with simple things like “fireball to the left” and had the devil’s own time with more complicated things like “super- or ultra-combo to the left” because the change in the location of the d-pad meant that the physical thumb motions required were so different from what I was used to. As I said, however, once I got used to it, I did about as well as before.

            Honesty compels me to add that, much as I love it, I am terrible at Street Fighter. “About as well as before” is not necessarily saying much.

            1. Duoae says:

              Not only these points, but the 360 controller had a very poor design which meant that you could easily register the “wrong” input. I never bought an Xbox One but so I don’t know about that controller but I know the Pro controller fixed it for sure.

              Controllers are funny things – what’s good for one pair of hands, isn’t for another. I am lucky in that my hands are in the goldilocks zone and I never had any problems with hands cramping since the NES and SNES era.

              I still think that the N64 pad (construction issues aside) is my most favourite pad…. the fine control provided by the longer stick and the ability to play shooters with the middle handhold felt really natural. Shame it wasn’t perfectly symmetrical but it seems like Nintendo are skirting around that possibility each and every generation since then! (Though I guess you can say that the Wii managed it)

              I think my “perfect” controller would have the stick and body layout of the PS4 controller, a recessed stick housing with the length of the N64 stick, the Xbox One Pro controller triggers and D-pad, the PS4 face buttons and bumper shoulders and the Xbox 360 stick head design. Pretty sure that’ll never get made though.

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                Never having a console I’m one of those people who grew up with mouse and keyboard and when I was playing on a friend’s console in my adulthood I quite disliked using a controller. Then several years back I caved in and bought an Xbox controller largely due to accumulating a number of games that while functional were… challenging with M+K (hello original Dark Souls port!). I’ve kind of gotten used to it since to the point where I prefer playing certain games, particularly 3rd person action titles, with a controller, but there are still things I dislike. In particular I find thumbstick presses annoying and in case of prolonged one rather tiring for my thumbs and I don’t always remember which face button is which, like, I’ll get muscle memory for what they do (push this to attack etc.) but throw a new mechanic that requires me to actually “press B now” and I’ll likely fumble (Yakuza karaoke is the bane of my existence). Oddly enough never had issues with the DPad but the titles I’ve played used it sparingly.

      3. Veylon says:

        They should just let people use their own frontends. The ads are there on every video anyway, so what’s it to them how they are accessed? Anything that encourages more watchers would be a positive thing, I should think.

    2. Geebs says:

      Main reasons for having a box are to improve airflow and stop people accidentally bridging components by touching the mobo and breaking it. Also prevents finger/fan interface and burns.

      I guess Paul’s kids are either really well behaved or really bad at climbing….

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Pretty sure a computer case reduces airflow, but I agree about it protecting the components and the users from each other.

        That shelf is totally within reach, even of the 1yo, so we just keep a close eye on them. Thanks! Yes, we try to train them well. Usually the little ones will mess with the peripherals before poking around behind the monitor, and the bigger ones understand that if they break it, they won’t be able to play games on it. I’m honestly a bit uncomfortable with everything exposed like that, and I’m kind of expecting to have to replace something at some point, but it’s an experiment I’m willing to run so that I don’t have to put up with a giant case.

        Another advantage is the noise. Case fans are pretty quiet these days, but this computer is noticeably quieter than all of the others except the Chromebook.

        1. Mike says:

          I’ve ran my main PC on the table like that for a few years, and it only maybe gathers a bit more dust for being horizontal, but then again it’s also easier to just blow on it occasionally :)
          Another side-effect is that when one of capacitors in the PSU blew up, was able to instantly notice due to it voilently exhaling a cloud of dust like a meter away from my face – could’ve missed a pop itself due to headphones.

        2. Geebs says:

          It’s airflow versus convection, isn’t it? My old PowerMac G5 would throttle aggressively if you took the side panel off for that reason.

          Good job with the child training! Mine would be in there with a screwdriver in about 20 seconds. 10, if you specifically told ‘em not to do it.

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            Yeah, I suppose so, if you have more fans making more certain that you aren’t re-circulating the air. I should probably put a horizontal fan in there to make sure there isn’t a thermal island back there between the monitor and the wall. So far it hasn’t been a problem, but it’s winter, so we’ll see when it warms up… probably when the desert winds kick up again around Christmas.

            Well, let’s hope we haven’t squashed all the initiative out of them in the process.

      2. default_ex says:

        Your case is primarily cosmetic and partly somewhere similar to put the outward facing components. Almost any electrical component is better off in open air with a heat sink and a gentle breeze. It’s a simple matter of how thermodynamics works. Heat is energy, 1 BTU is 1 Watt is 1 Joule; the three are same thing expressed in different ways. Energy is transferred by matter, in a computer’s case air. The easiest way to cool a gas is to let it expand, your spreading that energy over a larger area. Your room is significantly larger than a computer case, much more space for energy to spread out. The whole concept of positive pressure vs negative pressure in a case is ignoring the basic rules of thermodynamics that actually make a difference.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Cooling fans moves more air past the components than the non-breeze you’ll get indoors.

          1. Duoae says:

            +1 to this. The 10″ side fan on my case will help move the air in/through the case more than any non-existant static airflow in my room.

        2. Philadelphus says:

          1 BTU is 1 Watt is 1 Joule

          *anguished scientist noises*

          1. Nimrandir says:

            Have you taken any of the statistical mechanics courses where all the constants are treated as 1 (because putting them back in later is obviously a trivial matter)?

            I’ve only heard about them from office-mates, but I heard it was pretty tough to wrap your head around.

            1. Philadelphus says:

              No, thankfully. I handle units explicitly in my own work as much as possible.

  7. Echo Tango says:

    11:54 Mailbag: Procgen Stealth

    I think you fumbled the keyboard; Should be something like 40:45.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Also, on-topic for this game…ffffffuuuuuuuu it’s listed only for Windows on Steam, and I want to buy it. Hopefully it works with SteamPlay / Proton – what’s the correct name for this? Dammit Valve, you don’t need separate names for the engine and the marketing term / settings-page, if the engine already has a non-technical, easy-sounding / easy-to-remember name! Well, easy to remember if it’s not fighting with a marketing term… ^^;

      1. tmtvl says:

        Well, SteamPlay is just a mechanism to use Proton to launch games. Kinda like PlayOnLinux for Wine.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          The technical distinction between them is entirely pointless – Valve invented both of them, and chooses which layer/name/UI to expose to the end-user.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      Also, Shamus, have you played Invisible Inc? It’s from Klei, the people who made Mark Of The Ninja (also stealth), and it’s a cyber-punk turn-based stealth game, where you loot mega-corps to buy cyber-implants. :)

      1. BlueHorus says:

        And its levels are Procgen!

  8. Joshua says:

    Ugh, old-school games and their single save state. I remember playing Ultima III, which auto-saved when you died, and how I would be scrambling to jerk the disk drive open and yank the disk out before that could happen (the disk being a copy anyway, because you never played from the original disks back in the day, if you could avoid it).

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Real gamers played off of audio compact-cassettes. :P

  9. pseudonym says:

    Hi Paul,
    Computers have regulations for how much electrical interference they are allowed to emit. This is also a reason why these components are usually in metal case. I worry about these things way too much, but I feel I ought to tell you.

    Nice build by the way. It is quite fascinating how everything slots in a motherboard nowadays. APU, memory, m2 ssd, done. No add-in cards that stick out. Also only one moving part (apu fan). That is really great! Cable management is a bit messy without a case, but I guess it wouldn’t be that hard to mount the whole thing on a piece of wood/metal and then route the cables over the board. Did you use the VESA mounts at the back of the monitor to mount the motherboard? How did you manage to interface that? Is there a piece of plywood in between, or does the motherboard have screw holes that correspond to the VESA mount?

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      EMI is an interesting consideration. On the one hand, It’s possible that all cases work as medium to low frequency EMI enclosures. On the other hand, with the size of the air hole slots, and the tightness of the seams, it can’t be a very efficient shield. Good for 50cm wavelength or longer, and maybe a few DB for 20cm down to 2cm, and practically nothing below that.

      I lined up one of the holes in the MoBo with the mount holes on the back of the monitor. Then two more are anchored into the vent slots on the back of the monitor case with drywall screws. Terrible, I know, but the Computer Police didn’t show up, so I recon it’s fine.

      1. pseudonym says:

        Nice design according to your needs! Drywall screws were the most straightforward way to get the job done, so I don’t see anything wrong with that.

        I am wondering if that APU is the athlon 3000G. That would be only 35 W TDP, right? Maybe this could be powered by one of those minibox picoPSUs which would make the setup even smaller.

        1. Duoae says:

          Though presumably adding to the cost of the build. Since this was a reused PSU, that was one more component that didn’t need to be bought. But even the 3200GE and 3400GE are 35W so it could even possibly be that!

      2. Duoae says:

        Terrible, I know, but the Computer Police didn’t show up, so I recon it’s fine.

        …and you felt safe enough to post about it here? They are watching, Citizen!


      3. evilmrhenry says:

        Then there’s the cases that have giant windows in the side…

  10. Duoae says:

    The conversation on the PC build and how many monitors Shamus’ has had got me thinking…. and I was actually surprised that I’ve had more monitors than I thought I had (for my own, personal PC – not one owned by my parents when I was young). By my count, I’ve had three CRTs and two LCD monitors over a period of 19 years. I’ve had one CRT and one LCD fail on me (electron gun stopped working for one of the colours and there were intermittent power-offs in the LCD, presumably the capacitors went bad?).

    I’ve owned four actual computers over that period of time and only one motherboard and graphics card failed (both of them related).

    RE: Jedi: Fallen Order, it really strikes me how similar the traversal is to Prince of Persia (2008) – Shamus reminded me during his description of that traversal. Even the immediate respawn on last safe ground mechanic. Only, the combat is missing – which was such a shame in PoP. But, yeah… the ridiculous one-way restrictions in the level design were just so bone-headed.

    I’m also not really happy with every attack except for the basic attacks using force powers…. I’m not convinced about the activation times for healing, strong attacks and force powers and I really feel like there aren’t enough options for creating and closing distance between yourself and an enemy when the boss fight lightsaber enemies can just jump and slide around each arena with impunity… plus, in certain boss fights, the invulnerability frames in your dodge roll don’t count against certain attacks.

  11. Zagzag says:

    To answer the Dark Souls question Shamus asked during the show, yes there are reasons why you might not want to rest at a bonfire (at least in the first game), and they are most likely why the game requires you to actively rest rather than simply automatically respawning you at the last bonfire you were near to.

    First of all, fast travel is something you don’t unlock until midway through the first game, and when you do get it you can only travel to certain major hub bonfires (usually one per area). Resting at bonfires restores your healing items, but you can expend resources to permanently kindle a bonfire, which increases the number of healing items you refresh up to when resting there for the rest of the game. Since you won’t have enough resources to kindle every bonfire you run into, it may be a useful strategy to kindle certain “hub” bonfires that you will be visiting frequently in between major areas, and use these to stock up on healing items. A fully kindled bonfire gives you 20 estus flask charges, while one that hasn’t been kindled only gives you 5, so there can be some significant strategic value to ensuring that you respawn at one of these 20 estus bonfires, even if it’s slightly further from the boss you’re trying to fight. Resting at a bonfire deeper into an area can thus disadvantage you if the bonfire at the start would give you four times as many healing items.

    Another more niche situation is that you might not want to get “stuck” midway into a difficult area, and instead scout it out to obtain any useful items (since your inventory is retained when you die, and you can access a lot of the game’s areas outside of the “intended” order) before leaving and going somewhere else. Resting at a bonfire in the middle of a tough area could cause you to lose a lot of time fighting your way out repeatedly while trying to escape. This is something that comes up more often for experienced players who are after a specific weapon/piece of armour/spell in a specific location, and want to obtain it as early in the game as possible.

    As far as I can tell neither of these factors apply to Fallen Order. It’s most likely blindly copying the implementation of the mechanic from Dark Souls without thinking about it too hard.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      There’s also an easily-available item in Dark Souls that allows you to return to the last bonfire rested at, and this means if you’re delving into a deep and scary dungeon, or a labyrinth you don’t know the way out of, it can be useful to retain the ability to warp all the way out instead of resting at a bonfire in the middle of the area and having to walk out when you’re finished.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Rush down Kellogs and homebone back to Firelink to cut down TTS (time to Sen’s). As you don’t need to rest at White Spider to activate the warp you can proceed to Firesage after stomping Leo and Snorlax and finish the game going only once through the swamp

    2. Tamsin says:

      There’s still the fact that resting respawns enemies in Fallen Order, so there have been numerous times where I used a meditation point just to get the checkpoint or spend skill points, but didn’t want to rest because I’d cleared enemies out and didn’t want them coming back. It’s nice to have the option.

  12. Echo Tango says:

    You forgot to link the Stadia disassembly video and forgot the question-text! ^^;

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Don’t know what went wrong. Here it is:

      Hello Shamus and Paul,

      Last week you talked about Google Stadia and its controller. You mentioned it felt cheap and I was immediately reminded of this video of Gamers Nexus where they take the thing apart.

      As you can see it’s ridiculously sealed and they had to use all sorts of tools to open it. (Like a heatgun and even a dremel)

      My question is: What is the most difficult piece of electronics (anything from controllers to PC cases) you’ve ever had to open/disassemble and the wierdest piece of equipment you had to use?

      With kind regards,


      1. Echo Tango says:


    2. Shamus says:


      Fixed. Thanks.

  13. John says:

    Okay, my last attempt at this got flagged as spam when I went back to edit a Youtube link. Here’s take two: shorter, punchier, and link-less.

    I believe that most of the time practice trumps control scheme. Paul does fine at twinstick shooters with mouse and keyboard because Paul has a lot of practice with mouse and keyboard controls. There was a once a Tekken player who not only made it to Top 8 at a big Tekken tournament but while there beat at least one famous player–as Tekken players go, that is–all while using a steering wheel controller designed for driving games. If you spend enough time with a given control scheme or controller, you will–or at least can–get good.

    So do controllers even matter then? Yes. I wouldn’t say that controllers are better for twinstick shooters than mouse and keyboard; an experienced player will do fine with either one once he’s had enough practice. I would say, however, that it’s easier to learn to play twinstick shooters with a controller than with mouse and keyboard. Consider the plight of someone totally new to video games. This person has never WASD-ed or thumbtick-ed in his life. I think that this person will have more fun faster playing a twinstick shooter with a controller than with mouse and keyboard, if only because movement is so much simpler. With a controller, movement is inuitive–push the stick in the direction you want to go–and mapped to a single digit. With mouse and keyboard, movement requires the coordinated use of at least three fingers.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      +1 for having default controls closely resemble the physical motion/action they’re performing. I play lots of videogames, and still find it easier to learn a new game, when the buttons have some physical resemblance to the actions, instead of following some “convention” that actually doesn’t make sense in the specific game.

  14. Chad Miller says:

    Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world who outright liked the RE-style tank controls. “Liked” is past tense because I think it answered questions that no one asks anymore.

    The big benefit of having the controls oriented around your character instead of the camera is that it lets you have a game full of 3D environments with static cameras that can be placed pretty much arbitrarily based on whatever looks good. You can walk down a hallway watching your character from behind, round the corner and be viewing your character from the side, only to walk into another room and have the camera be on the other side of the room facing your entrance. And if you’re used to the control scheme this is all just seamless. That isn’t to say it was anywhere near perfect (the about-face button introduced in RE0 was long overdue) but it was good for what it was.

    The alternative, having the controls correspond to screen directions, instead of character directions, can work but adds complications especially if the cameras change too often or too radically. You end up with situations where you’ll be holding right to move right, then the camera changes and suddenly right is now perpendicular to the direction you’ve been moving. You have to do things like make it so that holding down a direction continuously runs continuously even if the camera alignment changes, so that if you’re holding the right-most direction, then release the joystick, then push it in the same direction, your character suddenly turns around to run somewhere else. That’s not a hypothetical; that’s how it works in Devil May Cry.

    With 3D games generally being first-person or over the shoulder at this point (even including the RE2 remake) there really isn’t a place for this sort of thing anymore.

    1. Duoae says:

      I don’t really remember those controls very fondly. I think they worked well in Resident Evil – like you say – but many other games didn’t handle them very well – e.g. when the camera switched, the “forward direction” might not, meaning you’d have to release and then re-press the desired direction. I think I remember that mostly happening in games like God of War… but I do have an inkling that Alone in the Dark had some control issues…. but not sure if that was one of them. It’s been a long time!

    2. Echo Tango says:

      I think control debounce is better for changing cameras, than having tank-controls no longer following over the player’s shoulder. That’s asking the player to do a physical rotation in their head, versus a control scheme where left always means left to the player (the character isn’t the person holding a joystick).

  15. Supah Ewok says:

    A shame about the Steam Controller. I got one a few years ago on the promise of it’s adaptability; I wanted to use it as a “one size fits all” for game emulation. Then I discovered that the interface to customize inputs was all tied up in Steam itself, rather than being a “plug and play” USB controller. Trying to fool Steam into thinking emulators are games is (or at least was) pretty spotty, so eventually I gave up on it for that.

    I tried to use it for a few other games. I got through Dark Souls with the Steam Controller. I really liked the rear buttons; I had them tied to rolling and sprinting. Eventually I just let it sit and gather dust, though. Every game required at least a little fiddling cuz I always wanted to swap A and B, and I typically invert the horizontal axis on the camera pad. I got a cheap used Xbox controller for emulators, which plugs into anything without any fiddling required, so the Steam Controller just kind of languished out of my laziness for swapping the controllers out.

    Supposedly people got a lot of useage out of the Steam Controller if they dug into it, even the gyroscope for fine-tuned motion control (which I didn’t even remember it had). I’m just not a kind of personality that likes to fiddle all that much if I can help it.

    Lesson for me here is to not adopt Valve hardware. They’ll probably quit the integration support for the controller at some point, which leaves it dead in the water since it’s dependent on Steam integration to work at all. And when’s the last time anybody heard anything about Steam Machines? All their VR stuff looks neat and all but I don’t think I trust Valve that stuff is still gonna be workable in 10 years. At least with pre-digital only consoles, they’re self-reliant and can be relied on to support themselves until they break, rather than become expensive paper weights when the support line is cut.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Well, SC-controller exists so you can use a Steam Controller without Steam. Apparently it works on Windows? (Of course it works on Linux, because people can write hardware drivers for anything for Linux as it’s better.)

    2. RFS-81 says:

      Press Right Grip to pay respect… I hope my Steam controller will last a long time.

      I love the Steam Controller for turn-based strategy games. You can sit back and still have all the keyboard shortcuts at your fingertips. It also works reasonably well for first-person games like Skyrim or Doom 2016 (single-player; I wasn’t going to win in multi-player in the first place). I’ve been a mouse-and-keyboard guy for a long time, but using a thumbstick to move in a 3D world just feels more natural to me than WASD, while the trackpad offers a bit more precision for aiming than an Xbox controller.

      Plus, it uses batteries! I bought a pack of rechargeable ones. When they wear out, they’ll be much easier to replace than a proprietary battery pack.

      The only annoyance for me is that you can’t download configurations for games that you didn’t buy on Steam, otherwise I’d be using it much more.

  16. baud says:

    Regarding playing with a single save (with autosave), I’ve done it with XCOM (two full campaign like this I think) and Rimworld (didn’t play much of that one), but in both case it’s an option (called ironman). I think in those case, it’s too prevent to abuse the save system to either go back from a bad decision or just scout a map “for free” (in XCOM’s case) to have an easier time. By removing those options, it increase the difficulty, so it’s just for an increase challenge (but not as big as bumping the difficulty). So it can works. But I wouldn’t be really in favor for a narrative driven game like Vampyr, especially if it’s on the longer side (20h+).

    There’s also all the roguelikes, but that’s another categorie and I can’t really speak about it, even if I think it that case, the single save-state is baked in the design of the game.

    1. Dev Null says:

      But then, if it’s an option to turn on ironman, you could also just not abuse the save system in the first place. So all it really gets you is a Steam badge and… bragging rights with the .001% of people who actually look at other people’s Steam badges?

      1. John says:

        Maybe you have the iron self-discipline necessary to keep yourself from abusing the save system, but I don’t. Not in XCOM, anyway. The purpose of Ironman isn’t Steam Achievements and it isn’t bragging rights. The purpose of Ironman is to prevent present-me from over-ruling past me and ruining things for future-me whenever a surprise sectopod takes out fifty percent of my squad in the space of two turns. I would hate for Ironman to be the only way or even the default way to play XCOM but I’m glad that the option exists.

        1. Chad Miller says:

          Another point in favor of things like this being game modes is that it makes a statement that the game was actually designed to be played that way. I too often like modes with extra challenges like this, but that doesn’t mean I want to personally evaluate the game balance of every game I play (sometimes even preemptively) to decide if playing with some specific restriction is “supported” by the game’s design.

          Adding something like Ironman mode doesn’t just impose discipline on the player; it implies an obligation on the part of the game’s designers.

          1. Mikko Lukkarinen says:

            I too often like modes with extra challenges like this, but that doesn’t mean I want to personally evaluate the game balance of every game I play (sometimes even preemptively) to decide if playing with some specific restriction is “supported” by the game’s design.

            Even more important than design or balance is the game’s QA. Nothing kills an ironman mode faster than bugs.

            1. Chad Miller says:

              That’s a great point. When I started Fallout 4 Survival Mode already existed and so I turned it on. The first time I died, I thought “Who thought it would be a good idea to restrict saving in this game?” (it involved clipping into the Sanctuary cooking fire, getting stuck and killed in what was basically the tutorial)

              1. Ninety-Three says:

                It still amazes me that online-only games like Diablo 3 offer Ironman modes. Some of them have the good sense to warn you “if your internet connection drops in the middle of combat and you die, that counts, you are DEAD FOREVER”, but man, I wouldn’t take that gamble even if I had fiber internet and lived next door to the game’s servers.

        2. Dev Null says:

          Well to be fair; I mostly don’t. But I don’t play in Ironman-or-the-local-equivalent basically ever. Though XCOM is _nearly_ the exception; I have played games of that in normal mode where I’ve said to myself “after the first mission or two (because all that would do at that point is save me having to sit through tedious beginning scenes etc.) I will not load to save anyone unless they died from a bug / accidental keypress / cat walking on keyboard / etc.” And I stuck to that, which I never would have done in _actual_ Ironman mode, after encountering said cat / bug. I’d have ragequit in a flat second.

  17. Gautsu says:

    In response to the Vampyr question, I don’t think you can 100% all of the NPC’s knowledge areas, since I am pretty sure a few conflict with each other, i.e. you can get his or hers. You can straight up finish the game with the non-violent method and no quests are locked behind learning a specific fact about one of the npcs. I really enjoyed the game (although it is not without flaws), and am looking forward to going back and playing a less benign Johnathon next time. While there are basically only 2 end states, the game states to get to those will vary pretty widely

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      Huh. I guess I can safely continue the playthrough and just enjoy the game as it is.

      Thank you!

  18. Steve C says:

    Single save slot– hate it too. Extra hate from me.
    Too many times I’ve had a save problem. Typically due to a game bug. Last time I remember was Frostpunk. A small visual bug appeared. I decided to ignore it. I should have loaded up a save that was missing it when I discovered it. Because it very slowly grew over the course of playing. Eventually when it was on screen it would cause my framerate to tank. Then it caused crashes. The game became unplayable *right* at the climax. Never played it again.

    With a single save slot, anything like that would always fatal to a game. Even when it was super obvious that it was a bad bug. That time it flew under my radar. Most bugs aren’t like that though. Weirdness = reload an earlier save.

  19. Dev Null says:

    “What an interesting idea for a game, although the first 50 puzzles are a bit toothless. It’s nice, gentle fun.”

    It’s also like 65 cents at the moment, so… I’ll give it a whirl.

  20. Echo Tango says:

    Re: cheap razors, expensive blades
    You can get it the old-fashioned way, where you’re not getting ripped off. It’s called a “safety razor”, for something like $20-$50 and they sell blades in packs of 100 for like, $20.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I guess modern “cartridge” style razors also count as “safety” razors according to Wikipedia, but they’re usually not labelled that way, because it’s a more old-fashioned term. This picture on Wikipedia is the kind you want, Shamus. :)

    2. Nimrandir says:

      As someone who doesn’t listen to the podcast and scrolls through the comments looking for interesting conversations, I can safely say nothing prepared me for this.

    3. Dev Null says:

      You can always try a straight-razor.

      Yeah, me neither. I actually bought one once and tried it. It was terrifying. No thanks.

  21. John says:

    Now, having finished listening to the entire podcast, here’s a short list of electronics I have taken apart and put back together (for certain values of put back together). Going from least to most complex:

    (1) A Logitech F310 PC game controller. The right shoulder button stopped working. I opened the controller up and discovered that the switch under the plastic button had merely popped out of place. I popped the switch back into place and closed the controller back up.

    (2) A Tivo. We let our Tivo subscription lapse and the secondary market value of our Tivo box was effectively nil. I opened the Tivo up, removed the hard disk drive, and closed it back up again. The Tivo was less functional than ever, but I got a free backup drive for my PC, so I call it a win.

    (3) A laptop. I completely disassembled and reassembled my old laptop on two separate occasions while diagnosing and attempting to resolve some AC power issues. The internal power adapter ultimately failed completely and the replacement parts I ordered didn’t actually fit, so in the end it was for naught. But the replacement parts were cheap, the first disassembly-reassembly extended the life of the laptop by several months, and I got another free backup drive for my PC so I call that a win too. Also, I now own a nice set of tweezers and spudgers. (I can’t believe that spudger is an actual term of art. What a world we live in.)

    In general, I am not eager to screw around with electronic devices. I’m neither an electrician nor an electrical engineer. I would never open up or tinker with a functioning device. But I’m not terribly concerned about breaking a device that’s already non-functional, and opening one up is usually entertaining and informative even if it doesn’t result in a repair. And the odds of getting another hard drive to use in a functioning device are apparently about 66%. Who knew?

    1. Duoae says:

      Normally, I’m the same as you – when it comes to consumer products, a lot of things aren’t really designed to be fiddled with and fixed so the ones I have tended to not go back together 100% (e.g. my Acer laptop). However, I’ve taken apart, diagnosed problems and fixed a load of scientific-focussed equipment but the most interesting were:

      A Polar Bear Plus
      A Hei-tec hotplate
      An IGA (variation on a TGA)

  22. DeadlyDark says:

    I say this. Writing long letters is worth just by getting the roasting Shamus and Paul give. Very entertaining part of the show, in its own right!

    Still, I’m wondering. Does Shamus like System Shock 1 control scheme?

    1. Nimrandir says:

      Based on this and this, I’d say he tolerates it.

  23. Hearthrose says:

    On the YouTube recommendation algorithm: I got randomly contacted by Google a little over month ago to spend an hour telling them my opinions on the YouTube user experience, and since I’m retired, in the area and have opinions I went. Based on the booking call, it seems like they’re focus grouping 6 or so people per day in two locations: downtown SF and the YouTube HQ in San Bruno.

    And so it was off to YT HQ for me. I got a temp badge and was led to a small room on the second floor by a thirty-ish woman, and consented to be filmed and recorded. She had me log into my Google account on an Android phone (carefully logged my out after the session), and asked me to load YouTube and narrate what I was seeing. I told her that I rarely use YT on the phone, and mostly use the Win 10 version on Chrome. I did say that I use the recommendations page frequently to find videos.

    She had me pull up a video from my feed and I picked one from the Jimquisition that I would watch soon. She then had me take a look at the recommended videos in the Mix feed for that video. I noted that these recommendations were almost entirely useless to me since I’m generally only interested in his game industry critiques which I generally watch on Mondays when they come out, and so the recommendation engine was giving only videos I’d already seen and his let’s plays and game reviews that I’m a rarely interested in. I emphasized that I really wish the recommendation engine would not include videos I’d already watched and livestreams which I’m generally not interested in

    We then turned our attention to music. I noted that I tended to prefer Pandora for music exploration. I pulled up a recently watched video Japanese Alt Idol group Broken By The Scream and again she had me look at the Mix for that video, and I was impressed by how good the algorithm was at coming up with related metal-ish Alt Idol groups. I reported that I used a facebook group for recommendations who maintain a YT playlist of the most recent releases. I still do not and likely will not use the Mix function because it does not particularly find the most recent releases.

    Somewhere in there I discussed the fact that I had until recently been using a channel-blocker because the algorithm is terrible at the culture wars, and I cited the fact that I started using the blocker when I started watching Anita Sarkesian videos, but the algorithm routinely coughed up the wretched bile of the Gamergaters because I did so. Ironically, I stopped using the blocker maybe a week before I went to YT because a Pewdiepie video came up and the extension broke when I tried to add him to the list.

    I also noted a problem with their ability to detect and remove piracy link spam videos. I search for new videos related to the Japanese reality show “Terrace House” frequently, and after every new release in Japan the search results get flooded with videos that are approximately the same length as the episode that consist of the exact same (usually game) footage. I noted that the channels do get discovered and scrubbed but it takes a couple of days. Within a week or two of my giving that feedback there was a noticeable drop in those videos, but now the spammers are using different footage for each video, and so, yay?, I apparently helped escalate one of the many arms-races that YT faces.

  24. Ninety-Three says:

    This is a test post to see if something triggers the spam filter.

    Edit: The spam filter remains a mystery.

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