Diecast #305: Bad News

By Shamus Posted Monday Jun 22, 2020

Filed under: Diecast 140 comments

So we’re having a bad week in an already-bad year. That seems completely unnecessary. The one silver lining is that this means next week will be FANTASTIC!

That’s how luck works, right?



Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.
Diecast305


Link (YouTube)

Show notes:
00:00 Moving day is here

Like I said, I’ll try to keep this place from falling apart this week, but things will be hectic. Between the move and my ongoing efforts to NOT DIE AT 48 YEARS OLDSee below., I’ve got a lot on my plate this week.

04:00 Cyberpunk DELAYED

Oh, Watchdogs: Legion was delayed an indefinite amount of time? That sucks, but at least I still have Cyberpunk 2077 in September.

Shit. Kerbal Space Program 2 has been delayed an indefinite amount of time. That sucks, but at least I still have Cyberpunk 2077 in September.

Dangit, Bloodlines 2 has been delayed an indefinite amount of time. That sucks, but at least I still have Cyberpunk 2077 in September.

Aw. Doom Eternal was a bit of a disappointment. It’s not horrible, but it doesn’t have the magic of Doom 2016. That sucks, but at least I still have Cyberpunk 2077 in September.

Microsoft Flight Simulator seems to be stuck in beta-test limbo and we still don’t have a release date. That sucks, but at least I still have Cyberpunk 2077 in September.

ARRRRG! Cyberpunk 2077 Has been delayed until November.

So now we have the EA Play Event and the Playstation 5 reveal. They’re trying to get us excited for the games of 2021 and 2022, when WE’RE STILL WAITING FOR THE GAMES OF 2020 TO COME OUT. We don’t even have a release date for most of these!

I imagine all of these idiots are going to fight over the Christmas season. Joke’s on you, publishers. I’m going to play Cyberpunk 2077 the whole time. Maybe you should have released your games ANYWHERE in the first three quarters of the year, when people had time for them.

Of course, a lot of this was caused by Covid-19. It’s really hard to get physical copies printed and shipped, and half the retail outlets were closed anyway. Still, if I was in charge of the release date for these games, I’d rather take my chances going all-digital than go head-to-head with Cyberpunk 2077 during the all-or-nothing Christmas rush.

09:29 Paul was laid off.

Good luck Paul! Hope you land a job soon.

11:30 Shamus health emergency

For those of you who don’t listen to the show, here is the short version: I saw the doctor back in March-ish. At the time, he said my blood pressure was borderline and I was at risk for developing hypertension. I figured it was time to get in shape.

But then the COVID-19 quarantine happened and I forgot all about it. I stopped taking walks and hid in the house for 3 months while pigging out on salty starches. I put on a ton of weight and got really out-of-shape.

So last week I got around to taking my blood pressure and it was 185/125. I didn’t know what that meant, so I looked it up and discovered that these numbers are REALLY BAD and I’m at greatly-elevated risk for heart attack, stroke, and eyesight damageOne of the things that tipped me off that something was wrong was seeing spots in front of my eyes. Apparently that pressure can be really damaging to the sensitive optic nerve.. Those are all extraordinarily bad things, so now we’re in panic mode trying to fix this.

19:04 Opus Magnum

Finally, some non-bad news! I really, really LOVE this game. I can’t stop playing / thinking about it. Also, it has this cool feature where you can save a puzzle solution as a gif…

I automatically hear the sound of a rotary telephone when I watch this animation.
I automatically hear the sound of a rotary telephone when I watch this animation.

25:18 Noita

Paul is still playing this game. I might come back to it in a few months and see what’s changed. (It’s still in early access.)

26:29 Mailbag: Lazy Cliffhanger Endings

Dear Diecast,

I recently finished a game that had a very deliberately “shocking” twist/cliffhanger.

The big bad evil antagonist showed up, using a teleportation spell that the Royal Guard spent five years perfecting despite only four days having passed since the beginning of the game; they immediately recognized the new party member was a robot, despite robots not existing in the place they all came from (which was a major plot point in the game); the usually kind and cheerful protagonist told the best friend character to chop the antagonists limbs off;…

In short, it was a complete mess clearly designed to spur players to buy the sequel, and it left me completely cold.

Have you guys been turned off of a game by a very badly telegraphed, BLAM cliffhanger? If not in an earlier installment, maybe in promotional material? And if so, did you eventually give in and check the game out anyway, or did you stick to your guns and leave it alone?

Vale,

-S?e?n?e?c?a? Tim

31:43 Mailbag: Absurd Body Counts

Dear Diecast,

When are absurd video game body counts actually a problem? Back when I began getting more into games and started playing through self-aware titles like Spec Ops: The Line and Undertale, I very much had the mindset of “Ah yes, Nathan Drake kills a 1000 people, therefore ludonarrative dissonance, therefore game bad.” I think what shifted my perspective was Uncharted 4. You still kill a crazy amount of people, but the ratio between gunfights and nonviolent activities has shifted dramatically. I suppose you could say they injected way more “quiet time” into the game. For me personally, it went a long ways to making me feel more like a scrappy adventurer and less like a mass murderer. The real issue was never body count, but instead pacing. So that was a really long-winded saying its more complicated than I realized and I’m curious when this particular bit of “video-gameyness” becomes bothersome to you guys if at all.

38:26 Mailbag: Shapes.io

Dear Diecast,

since you guys like Factorio, I was wondering if you’ve seen the game shapez.io, and if so, what your opinions are on it.

The game has a GitHub and an Itch.io page.

Vale,

-Tim
(Also on Steam)

40:42 Mailbag: Standing Stone Games

Dear Diecast,

Standing Stone Games is at it again . . . they put out a coupon to make all of their current non-expansion content in LOTRO and DDO free forever for anyone who makes an account before August 31. Pretty cool.

https://lotro.com/en/friendsforever
https://www.ddo.com/en/news/free-questing-coupon-and-vip-update-%E2%80%93-thank-you-standing-stone-games

Jennifer Snow

43:25 Mailbag: Microsoft Sucks

Dear Diecast,

Hi! Hope you two are doing well! I’m an old*, whiney, and stubborn curmudgeon, who’s always stuck in his ways. As such, I’m still using Windows 7, and dread the day I’ll be forced to upgrade to 10 (which I’ve used, and thoroughly hate).

But to my surprise, Windows 7 keeps getting security updates, even though they said they’ve stopped supporting it. One day, I turned on my PC, started working, and saw I had another Windows update. “Neat!” I thought, clicked “OK”, and carried on working. About 10 minutes later I was deep into looking at the remote client to my office computer. Suddenly, my machine froze, giving me a nonsense error to the effect of “Can’t create a file that already exists” (I don’t remember the exact wording)!

After about 20 seconds, my PC it rectified itself, and Windows Update told me “To apply the changes, save everything, and RESTART NOW!!!”. Needless to say, I had to stop working, and restart. This was obviously a very important update!

But after I logged back into my profile, ready to reopen the programs I need for work, I was greeted by a white screen with blue text asking me to “Save my preferences” and “Get Started”. I received a mini heart attack, thinking I had to spend the entire day (probably week!) fussing with reinstalling Windows.

To my relief, I quickly saw that this wasn’t a request for reinstalling Windows. “Phew!”, I thought. Yet my relief was quickly replaced with outrage. Because this white “screen with blue text” was actually a new program – Microsoft Edge. Turns out, the only purpose of this update was to install their obnoxious Win 10 browser that I never asked for!

Now, I’m sure all of this comes as a surprise to both of you – as you know, Microsoft is a company who value their users’ preferences and freedom, and it’s very uncharacteristic of them to interrupt our work, just so they can impose their decisions on our machines without even asking.

But just on the off-chance that you aren’t at all surprised – what is the worst way a Windows update (or decision) has made you angry?

Keep Being Awesome,

Lino

The anecdote I referred to during this segment can be found here: This Dumb Industry: The Windows 10 Store

49:25 Shamus is going to build a file server?

For you non-listeners who still read the show notes, here is a reverse-mailbag situation where I ask the question and hopefully some of you answer.

Issac and I need to share a lot of large files to produce the Diecast / This Dumb Industry videos. Currently, I upload to Dropbox and then he downloads them. This means that the files need to go out to the internet and back, eating up bandwidth, wasting our time, and lowering video quality for anyone watching Netflix. I could share a drive with him, but I want the files to be available even if my computer is off / sleeping.

So I figured It might be a good idea to set up a dedicated machine to hold the files. We even have a really old 64 bit computer that’s unfit for gaming. I’m thinking I could set that up in a closet or wherever and share a drive with both of us.

The problem is that I know sharing over a local network is always about 10x more difficult than it needs to be. Okay, the last time I tried this was in the Windows XP days. MAYBE everything is magically turnkey these days, but this is Microsoft we’re talking about.

It might be easier to set up a Linux box, but the odds of it being able to seamlessly share files with Windows are pretty low[ref|I’m willing to bet that if such a feature existed in Linux, it would be one of those things that mysteriously breaks every time Windows updates. I could also set up an FTP server, but for the sake of workflow we’d prefer to have access to this drive and be able to browse it using File Explorer.

Usually, there’s one right way to do something like this and a dozen wrong ways, and I’d love it if I could skip some of the trial-and-error. Microsoft removed the HomeGroup stuff and replaced it with thing new. (The HomeGroup stuff is still available via workarounds.) I could just follow the directions on the linked page, but this ain’t my first Microsoft rodeo.

So my questions:

  1. Any advice? There’s nothing more frustrating than setting something up and then having someone ask you, “Why didn’t you do Obvious Thing X? It would have been way better!”
  2. What’s the preferred way to set this up these days?
  3. What security concerns do I need to worry about? Is it possible for the external internet to exploit this system?
 

Footnotes:

[1] See below.

[2] One of the things that tipped me off that something was wrong was seeing spots in front of my eyes. Apparently that pressure can be really damaging to the sensitive optic nerve.



From The Archives:
 

140 thoughts on “Diecast #305: Bad News

  1. Lee says:

    If you want a file server, I’d definitely go with FreeNAS. I can’t say I’ve done it myself, but I haven’t heard of anyone having big issues with FreeNAS sharing to Windows in years.

    Also, using the Premiere function for Youtube is particularly annoying for me. First, no one is really there for live chat (the only real “benefit” of a Premiere video), and secondly, it disables listening to the video at 1.5x speed, which is my habit. It also doesn’t allow you to skip ahead if you aren’t interested in a certain section of the video, though that isn’t something I really do a lot on the Diecast.

    1. Liessa says:

      I don’t really mind the Premiere thing, but I’m a little confused as to the point of it as well. (It’s mid-morning for me and I’m listening to the podcast at work.)

    2. Echo Tango says:

      I like that they’ve got file-integrity built in with ZFS. No more cosmic rays flipping bits! ^^;

    3. reisseli says:

      I set up a FreeNAS server a few years ago and it was a really simple process and worked seamlessly with Windows. So I definately second this. Disclaimer: This was a few years ago so can’t really vouch for how things work nowadays.

      1. Borer says:

        I’ve recently set up a more custom solution (with a headless Debian and samba and mergerfs) and was about to type up a few paragraphs about how great and easy to follow this guide I used was. But after seeing the word FreeNAS I have to rethink that. There’s a ton of different Linux / Unix / FreeBSD operating systems for file servers out there. I haven’t looked into this, but I assume that if their security was awful they wouldn’t be as popular as they are.

        If You just want a simple file server, google something like “best NAS OS”, spend an hour reading about all the pros and cons of all the available options, and finally just pick the one with the prettiest web interface.
        Oh, and make sure You meet minimum specs. FreeNAS, for example, claims to need 8GB memory as a minimum while OpenMediaVault claims to get by with just 1GB.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          If you’re name-dropping specific filesystems and libraries, it’s probably not in the “simple enough” range that Shamus is looking for.

  2. Liam says:

    Sorry, can’t help you with the Right Way™, because I currently have a home theatre PC (running win 10) with shared drives and it works most of the time, but always refuses to work when I really need it to.

    I’m going to put together a NAS next financial year, hopefully that will make things better

  3. Bubble181 says:

    While I don’t have a lot of experience with NAS setups, sharing a drive these days really is as simple as they can make it.
    File explorer > this pc > add a network location > enter the name of the pc it’s on. You can add them as an extra hard disk, or as a network location, either works. Don’t really know why they even bother allowing both these days, though someone more experienced with networks may be able to tell you that.

    Also, speaking as someone whose blood pressure reached 250/195, yeah, try not to panic but do consider finding ways to bring it down healthily and permanently. Make sure to look – with a good physician – at the actual causes. In my case, not so much too much salt but calcium deposits in my veins, and lack of movement.
    It can be very different for different people, of course.

    1. Hector says:

      I wish to agree. No panicking, but you need to eat right and get some exercise, Shamus. You’re not on Death’s front door here, but bringing your BP down over time means living a longer, healthier life.

  4. Joe says:

    I agree, Shamus. Your LOTRO series was damn good. I’ve come back to that more than DM of the Rings.

    1. Joe says:

      And I’m actually glad CP2077 was delayed, until after I move house. Before could have caused some issues. Yes, I realise that it probably inconveniences a lot of people. But at least *I* stand to benefit. Better than no one, right?

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I’m kind of in the other boat, I basically have November off work and I was actually considering making it that rare case I get the game on or close to release, they’d have just enough time to fix any major bugs before I sat down to it, but now it’s gonna come out juuuuust as I go back to work. Oh well, not like I don’t have a giant backlog to tap into.

        1. Joe says:

          I’m sympathetic. Hopefully, the Christmas holidays will go well. Who needs family time, anyway?

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I don’t get Christmas on account on working in emergency services, but still, it’s not that much of an issue, might do the thing I usually do and wait until the DLCs are out.

    2. Joshua says:

      I’ve said this before, but the funny thing is that they changed so much about the starter zone for Men/Hobbits that I swear the devs read his lampoon and fixed things. You’re no longer gathering bilberries to make a cake for Calder Cob.

      After that, however, the silliness still remains. You still run a bunch of errands to find the lost (ill-gotten) treasure of a guy’s father, only for him to give you a pittance. You still have to wait for Sarah Oakheart to walk abysmally slow after you rescue her. It’s in-character for her as she’s trolling you, but still no reason you should put up with it.

    3. Nimrandir says:

      I’ve said it before, but if Shamus decides more Lulzy is in order, I’m totally down with it.

  5. Dreadjaws says:

    Hey, Opus Magnum sounds interesting. Let’s check it out.

    Opus Magnum is already in your Steam library

    Sigh. Why am I not more surprised?

    1. Decius says:

      If you like any of them, you’ll like more than half of the Zachtronics puzzle games.

      Which half, I can’t say for sure. They handle difficulty very well- if you can barely complete a puzzle, you can complete it and get the victory rush, but if you far outclass a puzzle you can try to do it faster, with less resources, or better than other people, and at the top of the game you can try to hit the theoretical limits of those things.

      ExaPunks in particular has me, months after reaching my skill cap, sometimes solving half-remembered puzzles in the shower. Also, it made me manually implement database operations in a way that gives me newfound respect for adding a row to a spreadsheet

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        And on top of solid puzzling Zachtronics games have some actually entertaining writing (YMMV of course), though I will mention that Opus Magnum is probably the most approachable (to the point where some fans of the dev say it’s too easy).

        1. Decius says:

          Fans who say Opus Magnum is too easy haven’t tried to reach the top tier on time.

          To reach top tier on time, you need to move all of your limiting reagents off the start every other tick, as fast as they can go.

          By itself, that’s fine- it’s getting that constant stream of stuff to the output that’s hard.

          The difference between top tier and maximum possible is in getting the last piece to the output as fast as possible; while if you only pull a new reagent every three ticks, it takes you 50% longer to make the stuff at all.

  6. tmtvl says:

    File sharing, huh. I’ve used Samba before, which is pretty turn-key; and I’m a big fan of Nextcloud, but for something local between Windows PC’s I have no idea what the best practices are.

  7. Adam says:

    If you want to share files, and your already doing it via Dropbox, then I suggest the quickest/easiest/least stressful way might be a new box always-on and running Dropbox. Can be pretty much any spec or hardware (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Potato), needs to connect to the local network (WiFi, wired, powerline, etc), have enough storage space (speed of disk is unimportant, since network will be slower), and be somewhere you can leave it always on. No change to your work flow required, backups handled automatically, and Dropbox will prefer to send files over local-net rather than internet (though check your settings to make sure this is the case). Could be a Raspbery PI or similar quiet/fanless, could be an old desktop in a garage, or I’m sure you can think of other ways to do it.

    1. Geebs says:

      Pretty much this. Dropbox does local sync, and a NAS often won’t.

      I use DevonThink for this sort of thing but I think it’s Mac-only.

    2. lupis42 says:

      Dropbox will prefer local sync, but it will still need to upload each new file. ResilioSync (used to be BitTorrentSync) is a slightly better option for that – peerpeer only with no “server side” copies at all, but a shared drive is still a good choice.

  8. Joshua says:

    That devastating twist at the end of Half-Life Episode 2 was so shocking I elected to not buy the sequel.

    I was also looking forward to playing Wasteland 3 during the quarantine, but that has been delayed until late August. Hopefully not to be delayed again.

  9. Lino says:

    Talking about frustrating cliffhanger endings, and you didn’t even mention Half-Life 2: Episode 2? Wow, Shamus wasn’t kidding about having problems!

    All jokes aside, though, I really hope your health improves. Hopefully, the increase of aerobic exercises won’t agitate your asthma. While lose wieght may be important, be careful not to push yourself too hard (as much as you can what with all the moving and stuff). If that means a couple of weeks without content, then so be it.

    And, once again, I wish you the best of luck in job hunting, Paul! But I’m confused, didn’t you start a side project as an animator for that Shadow of the Conqueror project? Or were you doing that pro bono? In any case, here’s to hoping you quickly find a job you’re happy with!

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I’ve been doing 3D modeling and animation on the side since 2008, but it’s never paid the bills. I mean, it pays my website hosting bills, and allows me to build a new computer every few years, but that’s nowhere near keeping the mortgage paid off.
      But yes, I’m supposedly getting paid for the SotC Short Film work, but nothing has come out of it yet, so I’m not counting on it. Even if it turned into a full-time job, it would only last a month or so, unless a lot more funding comes in. Being able to focus on it right now is really nice though! It’s certainly not all bad.
      Thanks for the well wishes! There are certainly a lot of people who have been out of work for months (my brother included, who was forced to shut down his fitness studio), so I’m not complaining at all.

  10. DeadlyDark says:

    CP2077 delayed? That means you, Shamus, now have the time catch up on CnC Remastered xD

    Jokes aside, I hope you’ll avoid any serious health complications. As they say these days – stay safe

  11. BlueHorus says:

    I can’t think of a game, but in terms of terrible cliffhanger endings…anyone remember Farscape, the TV show?

    Almost every season ended in a cliffhanger, gradually getting worse and more egregious, until the last: after a tense 3-episode confrontation that the show had been building up to all season finished and the cast got away, the main character proposes to his love interest (finally ending an irritating ‘will-they-won’t-they’ plotline)…

    …and then a random alien flies out of nowhere and kills them both. Roll credits. End season.

    Show cancelled.

    The fan backlash was so bad that eventually a small miniseries was made to wrap up plot threads and abruptly undo the bullshit cliffhanger (in it’s first scene). Unfortunately, said miniseries was shit…

    1. Joe says:

      I disagree about it being shit. IMO, it was overstuffed. Too much to wrap up in too short a running time. If it had played out over several more episides at a normal pace, it would have been really good.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        I originally watched the miniseries right after I’d found out about the show and watched it. It seemed totally fine to me; Better than some of the normal episodes they’d had! :)

        (I swear, one of the episodes was just side-characters (cheaper) talking about random stuff (no writers this week?), in a dimly-lit room (no budget for a location), doing flashbacks (recycled). Maybe it wasn’t all of these things, but it certainly felt like it!)

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Yeah, I think by the end the show in general had gotten pretty bad. It had been dragging on for a while, with a couple of plot points and characters being shamelessly and lazily prolonged.

          The miniseries might have grated on me so much because I saw it a couple of years later than the last episode, so my affection for the show was gone (and that cliffhanger ending sucked dog balls in a way that was completely unnecessary).

  12. Syal says:

    The only cliffhanger ending I’ve played was Trails in the Sky First Chapter, which actually had two. The first one was perfect; you defeat the Bad Guy and end the Crisis, with significant loose ends and the clear knowledge that the Real Bad Guy has successfully completed the first stage of their plan and will start the next phase in the next game. Roll credits there and you have a perfectly satisfying stopping point BUT NO. Instead there’s a SECOND cliffhanger where ANOTHER Bad Guy shows up to announce they’re the Real Bad Guy and they’re Totally Doing Evil Things, and I’m like, “this is stupid, game, you were doing so well.”

    It actually ruined a lot of the sequel for me*, because I didn’t trust Second Chapter to end on anything besides another cliffhanger, and my god does it take its sweet time getting anywhere remotely close to closure. Maybe I would have liked it more if I’d been confident it was actually finishing that story.

    *(…well, so did the intro of the sequel. A hated trope, instantly followed by a second hated trope. I dropped Second Chapter after the intro and left it there for years.)

    For body counts, the problem starts when we reach depopulation levels. Part of why I prefer fantasy is you can make enemies spring out of the ground if you want, so your enemy supply can logically be infinite.

  13. MadTinkerer says:

    People who don’t care about Indie games: “Oh man all these AAA games are being delayed! What in the world are we going to play?”

    Me: “There are too many good Indie games! Too many! A dozen well-reviewed factory games over here, a hundred well-reviewed platformers with unique mechanics over there, several dozen games right here that integrate music with game mechanics in a completely new way… The number of “programming” themed Indie games just DOUBLED?!? WHAT IS GOING ON?”

    Thanks to COVID-19, every Indie developer and their siblings and cousins and friends and enemies and pets have all decided to put serious effort into their dream projects and there’s a ridiculous flood of new and recently announced Indie games in every niche category you can think of plus some that have been invented in the last couple months NO EXAGGERATION. I very well might actually give up non-Nintendo AAA for good this time, just because I’m too busy playing Indie games.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I just picked up Rimworld: Royalty, although that was in development long before the COVID-pocalypse. I think it still counts as indie, although Ludeon might have a dozen employees by now… ^^;

    2. Daimbert says:

      Me: “The what are delayed now? Sheesh, I still have stacks — sometimes literally — of games to play and no time to play games. Even with the delays, I probably won’t be finished Persona 5 Royal before they come out, and still have tons of old games to play. They can wait.”

      1. Ander says:

        I finished P5R last week with about 110 hours recorded. I’ve forgotten games are generally shorter than that.
        So now I’m playing the P4 Golden PC release. I can return to shorter games later.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I’m playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker, not only is it a bloody long game, particularly on a first playthrough), not only do I play it particularly slowly agonizing over almost every decision, on top of all that I’ve installed a turn based mod* which I love but it does slow combat down significantly.

          *From what I’ve heard around August they’re actually patching turn based into the game officially, for which they have supposedly employed the modder who did this one, which is excellent on pretty much every level.

        2. Daimbert says:

          With my schedule, the best plan for me was always to do the opposite: go for shorter games now, longer games later [grin].

          If they ever send me back to the office, I’ll probably pick up The Old Republic again …

  14. Darker says:

    There are routers you can plug a USB hard drive into and share it on your local network via FTP or SMB. Maybe your router already supports this, and if not buying one will probably be cheaper than buying a dedicated pc.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I think he has a PC already that could do it, so he just wants to know how to set it up.

      I recall recently trying to figure out how to transfer files between my laptop and PC box that are all plugged into the same Ethernet. I think I managed it, but somehow I still prefer to use swapable drives anyway (probably so that I don’t have to have all of them running all at the same time).

  15. John says:

    Hey Shamus, in the last couple of months or so I’ve sent in two questions to the Diecast that haven’t been answered. Until you ran short today, I assumed you were dealing with a question-backlog. Now I’m starting think that they got eaten by some kind of spam filter. Perhaps I should re-send them from a different e-mail address? Although . . . if the questions just sucked, you guys can tell me. I’m tough. I promise I can take it.

    Quarantine has done a number on my physical fitness as well, though perhaps not to the same extreme. Jogging is my preferred form of exercise, but I tend not to do it in the winter. My lungs can’t handle sub-freezing air at the rate that jogging requires. This winter, though, I resolved not to slack off. I paid ten bucks a month to the local park to get access to their fitness room and used the treadmill three times a week. When the weather finally turned and I could run outside again, I did much, much better than I usually do after not running all winter. I didn’t get stiff. I didn’t cramp up. It was great.

    Then quarantine hit. I don’t really mind social distancing. Social distancing is more or less my normal state of affairs. The problem is that–without really thinking about it, I suppose–I used quarantine as an excuse to stop jogging. (The park closed the fitness room! There are too many people on the streets! Gosh, I guess I can’t jog today. What a shame!) In the last month or so I’ve started up again and . . . ugh. Whatever level of fitness I preserved over the winter is gone. I’ve been stiff. I’ve cramped up. It’s taken a good two or three weeks to get back up to the point where I can run my usual route at what I consider a non-horrible pace. It’ll take who knows how much longer to get to the point where I’m running at a pace I can feel semi-proud of.

    1. Shamus says:

      The last email I got from your address was March 10, (which looks familiar and I think we answered) and before that February 7.

      If you’ve sent anything more recently, then I didn’t get it.

      1. John says:

        The questions I’m talking about were sent on March 20 and May 26. I sent to them to the usual address and I didn’t get any kind of undeliverable-error notification. Weird. Oh well.

        Thanks for responding, Shamus.

        1. Duoae says:

          Hmmm, i also sent a couple of emails on May 1st and 4th but not to the diecast email. I assumed you just didn’t feel the need to reply (totally okay) but maybe there’s an underlying problem?

    2. Daimbert says:

      On the fitness part, for me my weight has gone up but I think my fitness has gotten better.

      At the start, I ate too much of the wrong things at the wrong times — partly experimenting on figuring out how and what and when to eat while working from home — and my weight went up a bit. It was already a bit high from Christmas and a vacation right before that, but it went up even more. Then I started figuring that out and it started to go down. Then I was terrible for a couple of weeks and regained the little I had lost. Now I’m starting to bring it down again and settling back into a routine.

      At first, I was going for my normal walk pretty much every morning. As my weight was going up, I realized that I got a lot less exercise when at home than when working, and so doubled the length of my walk in the morning. This helped me with fitness, because I was feeling out of shape early in those months beyond just the weight loss. Given that, I was worried when I had to cut the entire lawn and then rake after it or seal the driveway that it would wipe me out, but it didn’t. I suppose having to rake the entire back lawn helped a bit with that.

      So I think I’m more fit in the sense of being able to sustain activity for long periods of time, but am heavier which doesn’t help that much. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the weight down over the next few months.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Remember now, muscle tissue is denser (and therefore heavier) than fat. That doesn’t mean that the average 300lbs American is a ball of muscle, but just because you get heavier doesn’t mean you’re getting fat.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          They sell bathroom scales which measure your body-fat percentage! (By measuring the different electrical resistance caused by fat vs non-fat tissues in your body.)

          1. Geebs says:

            Those things which only have contacts for the feet aren’t very accurate, because they’re essentially measuring the electrical impedance of your junk.

            TBH even the 4-point body composition devices which include contacts for the hands aren’t great. A large part of the prediction is the sex and age details you entered yourself, and you already knew that.

        2. Daimbert says:

          Yeah, I mostly track my waist size along with weight, since in my last round of weight loss I exercised more and didn’t lose as much weight (which was rare for me) and the last time I talked to my doctor she said that that was a good idea. Still, my weight went up without an increase in exercise so I’m pretty sure a fair bit of it is due to putting on fat [grin].

  16. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Well I was about to get that sweet DDO content but it turns out that they do NOT want me to register. At first they refused my nickname because Gargamellenoir is not between 6 and 25 characters and/or contains non alphabetical characters, don’t you know. When I tried something else they just threw an error 500 at my face. Message received DDO, thanks for wasting my time.

  17. lupis42 says:

    Linux’s SMB (windows filesharing) support is really good – there’s a bunch of products (like Synology NASes) that are essentially so reliable I never think about them except when I want them to do something new, and if all you want is Windows filesharing, it really is easy to get working.
    Windows NetBIOS name recognition is.. not awesome, but if your router can handle local hostname resolution, or if you can give it a fixed IP on the local network, you’re golden. If not, the Linux box should be able to sort everything out for you.
    If you throw old hardware in a closet, make sure it’s not going to put out enough heat to have problems (or die from dust in the fans causing it to overheat) – for that, a dedicated Synology or similar ARM device would likely make your life easier, what with the vastly reduced power and cooling requirements.

    1. Chris says:

      Yup, it’s honestly kind of weird how much better SMB works with Linux than Windows these days. If you want to set this machine up and then not worry about it for the next decade, install CentOS 8, install the samba package with yum, edit /etc/samba/smb.conf to configure a share, add a couple of smb accounts, enable automatic updates, and you won’t need to touch it again unless the hardware fails.

      1. MikeK says:

        Agree. I have a raspberry pi hardwired to my router running a samba share. Easy to configure and I haven’t needed to touch it since the initial setup, plus files stay on the local network (to be fair, the initial smb.conf setup can be a slight pain for the uninitiated).

        Another potential easy option: my router has support to connect a usb drive which is then available to any device on the local network. I haven’t tried it, but this is probably the easiest of all approaches if it works as advertised.

    2. pseudonym says:

      I second this. A NAS device was made for this task. I own a synology and the interface is really easy. Power consumption is low. It supports samba, ftp, sftp, rsync, apple protocols etc. This is the lowest investment in time (I think).

      If you want to repurpose an x86 machine, I would suggest sticking with what you know. Ubuntu is a good server OS as well. Install the unattended-upgrades package, so you don’t have to worry about updates. Samba can talk to both windows and linux. So install the samba package and you are good to go. You just have to learn configuring it correctly.

      Keep in mind that consumer hard drives are made to operate 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This is different from operating 24/7. I don’t know if you can get away with setting up a fileserver and not buying special NAS drives. On the other hand this might be FUD from hard disk manufacturers.

      1. Duoae says:

        I’ve been running a Synology NAS since around 2013 with consumer drives. Only changed the drives to increase capacity. Okay, I’m not a heavy user but I’m certain the NAS manages drive longevity.

        I can also recommend this but if Shamus has a PC and lots of drives ready to assemble into a NAS-style server then that would be the cheapest option.

        The other thing i can recommend (in terms of storage space) is transcoding from H.264 (i presume you’re using this, Shamus) to another, better format for storage. I’m using H.265 via CPU transcoding and getting around 50% better compression for essentially the same quality.

        I don’t have an RTX card to test with but i found that GPU transcoding is great for speed but bad for resultant file size. That’s fine for streaming on the fly but bad for long term storage.

        If you’re potentially worried about space (which you didn’t indicate) then I’d definitely recommend adding the step of optimising the size of the final recording before running it to the NAS…. though of course, if you’re running your own PC NAS then there’s no reason you couldn’t write a script to transcode every file you placed in a specific folder and have it all automated…

  18. Ninety-Three says:

    It’s weird to see the question bring up Uncharted 4 as a positive example, because I feel it’s the worst UC game for ludonarrative dissonance. In the earlier games I found it tolerable because they were campy, lighthearted adventures: yes the dissonance asked you to turn your brain off, but that’s okay, you weren’t really using it to play this game anyway. I’m basically with Shamus on it being an issue of tone: 4 has some real narrative aspirations, it wants to be taken seriously and that is much harder to reconcile with “Nathan Drake is a mass murderer”. It’s especially bad because one of the big character conflicts is over someone wanting Drake to stop adventuring because “it’s dangerous”, which only serves to draw your attention to how psychotic it is that he sees dozens of heavily armed mercenaries and decides to singlehandedly fight them instead of just walking away letting them have the treasure (it’s not like they’re going to take over the world or anything, it’s just a bunch of ordinary pirate gold).

    1. Geebs says:

      Didn’t Uncharted 3 already have its entire final section be a hallucination, or something? Personally, Uncharted 4 is my favourite by quite a wide margin, partly because it never goes full Blue Man Group.

      The “why doesn’t Drake walk away” thing is explained by his brother.

      As for the ludonarrative dissonance thing in Uncharted – I don’t care, this is Indiana Jones and disposable baddies are completely genre-compatible.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure there were numerous points at which the Drake brothers were together and realistically should have had the “Are we sure we want to murder all these mercs for pirate gold?” conversation. It’s not even really the ethics of mass murder, because I agree these are genre-appropriate disposable mooks, but there’s a simple matter of self-interest in whether it’s really worth it to get shot at this much.

        As a narrative, I think Uncharted 4 works better if you pretend almost every gunfight simply doesn’t happen. That’d probably make it a more boring videogame, but that’s ludonarrative dissonance for you. Write the bloodthirsty killers and the combat out of the story and then the “Drake should stop adventuring because it’s dangerous” arc can have the characters talk about the danger instead of glossing over the issue because it sounds too insane to say out loud what Drake gets up to. Then it will make sense when the arc is resolved by What’s Her Face getting dragged along until she’s forced to admit that yeah, this is pretty fun.

        Also, this fix might force them to drop the stupid “Thief’s End” bait and switch where they kept hinting that something terrible was going to happen as a result of the brother’s greed, and then at the end it all works out, they find the pirate gold and retire happy. All that dark hinting was great, right up until the end where they wussed out and didn’t do anything with it.

        1. Asdasd says:

          “As a narrative, I think Uncharted 4 works better if you pretend almost every gunfight simply doesn’t happen.”

          You know I never thought about it too hard, but it seems that abstracting away some gameplay/story incompatibilities has always been implicit. Does Link really spend most of his time ruining people’s pottery and uprooting their yards in his quest to rid the world of evil? Does Snake really prevail only because all the guards at Shadow Moses are afflicted with Goldfish Memory Disease?

          It seems to me that we’re better off with this being the default. Suspension of disbelief, right? If we demand a perfect marriage of the ludic and narrative halves of our games we’re only going to end up with a bunch of dour, joyless morality tales anyway.

          1. Thomas says:

            Yeah, and on a more basic level we sort of pretend that the bullets aren’t really hitting our protagonist when he gets shot, because getting shot makes the game more visceral, but the average FPS protagonist would be more lead than flesh by the end of it.

            Red Dead Redemption 2 could have done with using more suspension of disbelief to make some of the basic animations in the game go smoother. It’s definitely a tool to use, and different games need to use it in different ways (and some get it wrong). Whilst I enjoy the Uncharted games, it doesn’t suprise me that people find the suspension of disbelief harder, because the tone and character of the game is so different.

            1. Geebs says:

              Counterpoint re: the effect of tone and character: Mario kills hundreds of turtles per game, often kicking their lifeless corpses around the level or, even more tastelessly, using them to murder their own family. He does so, unquestioningly, in defence of an unelected monarch who isn’t even the same species as the people she rules over with total authority. Mario games are universally cheery in tone, and yet nobody’s complaining about ludonarrative dissonance.

              Basically I think the people dunking on Uncharted protest too much, particularly the guy who totally undermined his own rather affecting game about the misery inflicted by unregulated mercenaries with ludicrous respawning checkpoints and the most inept depiction of infectious disease ever seen in a videogame.

              1. Syal says:

                Stomps and kicks are actually a necessary part of the Koopa Troopa lifecycle; that’s how they turn into Buzzy Beetles in World B.

  19. King Marth says:

    I think I played that game with the “absurd” cliffhanger, assuming it’s the visual novel fault: milestone one – vilsariol!. I reject the assumption that the cliffhanger was designed just to get you to buy the sequel, for one clear reason: This game released 2013, part one of part two released in 2015, and the studio has since released one entirely different game and one demo for a prequel they’re working on. Not much sequel to sell. Of course, I got both titles in a bundle as an afterthought, so I never had a moment of “insert credit card to continue”.

    That said, every part of that ending was payoff. The big bad evil is an outside-context villain, who opened the game with single-handedly overwhelming armies and displaying that teleportation power in the first scene which creeped out their allies, though it’s the literal nuke that drives home how far the protagonist is out of her league. Identifying a robot goes right along with the implication that this villain, if not a literal god, may be a sufficiently advanced alien, or even a robot themselves capable of bypassing the carefully constructed limits humans have on working magic. The nice girl suddenly issuing lethal orders has been built up as the living reincarnation of the memories of eight generations of royalty, the entire game being about saving the knowledge in her from enemy attack so that she can grow enough to apply centuries of experience *without* being overwhelmed by the other personalities, though I don’t recall if the first game mentions the tyrant ancestor by name. Having her abruptly shift personality is expected as a sign of things going horribly wrong, and the drama is in how her sworn guardian reacts to the Queen’s transformation. All of this naturally relies on the various other tricks (like constructed language) used to get invested in the world enough that the inconsistencies become mysteries worth solving rather than plot holes, which is an ambitious tactic on such short games. The anime A Certain Magical Index failed this for me, the standard pop-culture “your brain has a storage limit” trope was a blatant lie in setting which was used to control people with regular memory wipes “for their safety”, and the moment someone talked to anyone with passing knowledge of neuroscience, that house of cards immediately collapsed. Unfortunately they pulled that trick too early before there was any author trust, so it fell flat.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Yeah, but a lot of that info you only get in the opening of milestone two. Which I only played at most a minute past the undo fakeout in the beginning because between the ending of one and the opening of two I really don’t care any more, and I regret wasting my time on the first game.

      1. King Marth says:

        Hmm, I remember that showdown being contained in milestone one, with milestone two focusing more on the fallout. That would make the split more awkward, and my good experience dependent on my ability to experience it all in one sitting.

        Either way, that reaction is entirely fair. Too many series manage to get by writing narrative IOUs (“it’ll all make sense later”) that the writer ultimately can’t satisfy. The fact that the series has stalled basically works in its favor – as long as it never ends, we’ll never get a Mass Effect 3 or Zero Time Dilemma realization that the explanations we were promised can’t live up to the hype. Until that day comes, one can hope that just maybe this time it’ll really work.

        One recommendation that also came out of that bundle: Root Double, Before Crime After Days. Tightly written story with plenty of foreshadowing, and every detail gets proper follow-up. Plenty of things don’t make sense the first time they come up, and recognizing these inconsistencies is critical towards finding the truth.

  20. Infinitron says:

    Bloodlines 2 was actually delayed to later in 2020, so not “indefinite”.

    1. Shamus says:

      Same deal with Watchdogs: Legion.

      In this case, I used “indefinite” to mean “not definite” instead of “forever”. Like, we have no idea when it will come out. September? October? December?

      As someone who tries to plan games ahead of time so I’m always playing a still-relevant game to feed the content mill, this is SUPER annoying.

      I’d really appreciate it if publishers would at least commit to a month, even if they don’t have a specific day in mind.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Speaking as someone in the software industry where the consequences are far greater if we miss a release than it is for gaming (customers apply penalty clauses on contracts in the hundreds of thousands), they won’t and if they did it wouldn’t really help. They could pick October, say, but then won’t make it and so would have to say “Oops, sorry, November” which won’t help you at all … and likely would make things worse because you’d plan for it and then it would change at the last minute. At least here you can plan it out for the latest it could be and do other things instead … like, for example, older games as retrospectives that you know you can access and might be fun to play or write about.

        In my job, that shuffling happens internally. If we never did that to customers, they’d gripe, so we tend to not tell them anything unless we’re sure we can hit the dates.

        1. Shamus says:

          You know, when these delays were announced they said, “The game is done, but we’re having problems with physical distribution.” and I sort of took that at face value.

          But now that you’ve pointed it out, it’s very possible that these games were just behind schedule and COVID-19 shutdowns made for an easy scapegoat.

          This seems like a far more plausible explanation. After all, no plans changed when the economy re-opened last month. That points to the games being incomplete rather than manufacturing delays.

          Still, if all of these games release at the end of the year then it’s going to be a disaster for some of them.

  21. Maleldil says:

    What I do for my local file server needs is actually really simple. Most routers manufactured in the past decade or so will have a USB port which is meant for connecting external hard drives to. I had an old 2TB external drive that I used to use for backups (now use Dropbox for that) so I just plugged it into the router, configured it to share (as an SMB share) and then just set up my windows machines to automatically mount that share (using the IP address of the router). Obviously this solution doesn’t scale to multiple drives or anything fancy, but for my simple needs it works great without any additional expense for dedicated hardware.

    1. Toad says:

      I run a small, low-power (at least, it used to be…) file server that runs Arch Linux using the “LTS” kernel line, so that in theory if I go months or years between updates I’m going to be OK. So far, so good. I host my files locally on ZFS (using ZFS On Linux) and share them with SMB, so windows can access them natively with \\servername\sharename as expected. I’ve also got public-facing web and SSH servers on it, with some access-denial scripts in place to keep out the kiddies.

      Pros & Cons:
      Pro: Arch Linux is very easy to set up and its wiki is probably the best-maintained and content-rich in the consumer-Linux World.
      Con: It’s terminal only, so you have to have some confidence in running Linux commands.
      Rebuttal: Copious manpages and good wikis mean that the only things slowing you down are your human meat fingers.

      Pro: ZFS is a very powerful, extensible, redundant file system that allows for kernel-level “raid” functionality in all the typical flavors.
      Con: It’s not properly GPL’d, so it can’t come stock in the kernel and can’t be officially distributed by the Arch Linux folks, so you have to use a third party repo.
      Rebuttal: The ZFS On Linux guys have a good set of instructions for getting ZFS on Arch as simply as possible.

      Pro: Samba (SMB) sharing on Linux “just works” and has a simple, file-based configuration.
      Con: …except for authentication. If you don’t want everybody accessing the shares as an unauthenticated guest, you need to manipulate a mostly-invisible user list using weird smb-specific version of Linux’s user tools (e.g. smbpasswd, etc.).
      Rebuttal: If you’re not opening this machine to the Internet, local file security is pointless because if you get compromised, it will be through one of your Windows computers that has all of your personal and production data on it anyways.

      Pro: I used to leave this thing on for literally months at a time with no issue (I recently started turning it off at night to save power).
      Con: This is a problem with all Linuxes, but Arch is no exception: when you try to update after months or years without doing so, you’re going to lose a day to wiki-diving, news-reading, and angry terminal-typing. Maybe put this on your “happens with the time change” list along with changing your smoke detector batteries.
      Rebuttal: Most of my anger at Linux in the last five or so years has been at X and nVidia as they transition to wayland (from Xorg) at different rates, which would sometimes leave my computers without any graphics for a few days. Fortunately, the file server doesn’t even have a monitor, and I haven’t had a problem so severe that SSH didn’t come up in even longer than that.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Eh, instead of Arch I’d sooner recommend a dedicated distro, like SME Server, openmediavault, or Turnkey GNU/Linux.

        EDIT: Almost forgot Rockstor, that one is great.

        1. pseudonym says:

          If you go with linux, stick to a distro that is already installed on a device that you use regularly. That way you don’t have to learn new tricks when you check out the server. Ubuntu LTS is a good default. Updates are safe, and it is supported for five years until you need to upgrade. Which in ubuntu’s case is just one command.

  22. CBob says:

    The cliffhanger that got me was Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. By the time I got the game I’d already heard it was basically part 1of a two-part story that was never going to get a part 2, but I figured as long as the gameplay was good and the environments were cool (I’d enjoyed Human Revolution) that would still make it a worthwhile experience.

    Turns out it wasn’t. Without a good through-line to hold things together (cliffhanger aside, the story in MD is like 3 different boring mythos X-Files episodes intercut to the point of confusion), and most of the game confined to the same boring grey map (whereas HR would jet-set around every mission to keep Detroit from getting too stale), the tedium of the gameplay really started to come to the forefront.

    Eventually I got to a point who-the-fuck-knows how far in where the game demanded I choose between going on a mission to save person A, or going on a mission to save person B, with explicitly no way to save both. This was supposed to be tense and dramatic moment where the devs were trying to sledgammer a “gritty” or “realistic” theme about not being able to save everybody or “hard choices” or some other such wankery (I hate pessimism that thinks it’s cynicism, and the romanticizing of “hard choices”, SO MUCH). In reality the choice was so finely balanced that I had nothing in or out of character, subjective or objective, to tip the decision one way or the other. Both characters were so equally important that the choice was a coin-toss no matter how I looked at it. The devs had tried so hard to make the choice “balanced” that they’d made it empty.

    So I put the game down, thinking I’d come back later when I’d had time to consider it in more depth. Only instead I just stopped thinking about, and never came back. Every time I remember it exists and think of maybe finishing the game, I remember that I’d have to start by resolving “that” choice, and between the gameplay being “meh”, the world being grey and boring, and the story being half a bag of hotdog buns with no hotdogs, my mind goes “not worth my time”, every time.

    1. Duoae says:

      Glad to hear i didn’t waste my time on this. I stopped after getting to the first contact after the intro mission…. the game justdid not hold me. On the otger hand, i wasted 50-60€ on that game…. i probably should play it.

    2. PeteTimesSix says:

      If I recall correctly that particular choice (and I could be mistaking it for a different one, its been a while), despite the game *insisting* that its one or the other does infact give you like five minutes to save both.

      Its also placed about five minutes before the final boss. Yeah.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        You’re talking about the ending scenario. He’s talking about an earlier mission where you get to choose to save between two different people.

        1. Jeff says:

          Which mission?

          I just reviewed all the quests and story summaries for DXMD, and I have absolutely no idea at what other point do you decide between two characters.

    3. Dreadjaws says:

      In reality the choice was so finely balanced that I had nothing in or out of character, subjective or objective, to tip the decision one way or the other. Both characters were so equally important that the choice was a coin-toss no matter how I looked at it. The devs had tried so hard to make the choice “balanced” that they’d made it empty.

      I’m sorry, but I just cannot understand this complaint. Isn’t this the point of this kind of choice? That it’s not easy to make? If you had an easy (even if subtle) way to tip the decision, then there’s really no point in calling it a “choice”. People will tend to take the “right” choice unless they’re deliberately going for 100% completion. You seem annoyed at the fact that things weren’t made simpler for you and you’re trying to complain about the developers doing their job properly.

      Yeah, that’s how it is in real life. Sometimes you have to make a decision where one side loses, and you have absolutely nothing that will make you feel even a little bit better for picking one. You might, for instance, be in charge of picking who of two families gets to be in a plan to build a house. There’s limited place and you have to make a choice between two strangers that seem to be in equal standing. There’s no benefit to you in either case so you literally have to pick a side with nothing that might lead you to prefer one over the other. What might be a life-or-death situation for the people affected will be reduced to a coin toss to the party responsible for their fate (you). You might not like it, but this isn’t a failure of the developers, it’s an absolute success.

      Honestly, what did you expect? The choice between saving a rich lazy asshole and a poor working old woman? You might prefer that from a satisfying standpoint, but that’s the laziest way to go about this thing. Don’t go out and try to blame the developers for what’s an issue of your own personal preference.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I don’t want to put words in CBob’s mouth but from their description I’d guess that at that point they might have been somewhat fed up with the game, this type of choice is not their thing and possibly that the issue wasn’t that the choice was “hard because it mattered and I had to sacrifice something either way” but rather “it was equal in that I didn’t feel invested in either outcome.

        On the other hand it’s interesting how differing our opinions are on the level design because I generally enjoyed Prague, this may be partially due to living sorta next door to the Chech Republic and actually seeing a bunch of familiar architectual bits, including the mashups of “weird new sci-fi (not)iphone place” on the ground level of the 19th century tenement building where the actual inside of the building has been “renovated” into low income (but atypically tall) flats. And the Czech language is just similar enough that I can get most of the ads, posters etc. without being hit with how much they supposedly butchered some of it. Again, this may be the factor of familiarity at work but I’ve found exploring the map quite entertaining (admittedly I enjoyed it somewhat less when I had to sneak through).

        1. Thomas says:

          I loved Prague. It was both a unique looking setting, and (for me) incredibly well designed. I loved how it made sense as a world and different pieces and quests would interconnect.

          I still consider Prague one of the best maps in gaming. But I explored it at the expense of pursuing the main mission and had little drive to progress the main missions once I was done.

        2. CBob says:

          I enjoyed Prague for the first few hours. But there came a time when I felt like I’d been back and forth over the same streets a few too many times, and needed a change of scenery.

          Human Revolution almost did this with Detroit: I enjoyed it at first, but eventually it got monotonous, and I began to hope it wasn’t all the game had to offer. Fortunately as soon as I started to feel this way, the game flew me away to a different, distant location with a different feel. Thereafter it would return to Detroit as a base between missions, but, it didn’t demand I stay there rooting around in it for a similar amount of time as the first time, and every story mission took me away to another new and different looking/feeling place, preventing the game from getting stale and Detroit from getting boring.

          Prague, by contrast, isn’t just a base/hub. The majority of the game’s content and story missions are there, with only very occasional missions taking you elsewhere. While the map is large-ish, it didn’t have enough variety to keep it interesting once I knew the place. And while there were things like old architecture mixed with post-modern architecture, poor areas contrasted with rich areas, etc., there was also an overarching meta greyness and sameyness to the texture of the place. Unlike HR, MD didn’t shift gears as I was getting tired of the scenery, it doubled down instead.

          It also felt weirdly graphically downgraded compared to HR. The textures were higher res, but the models felt simplified somehow, and the lighting engine felt WAY lower grade. The lighting had this weird OpenGL-like flatness to it, like it was actually from an older hardware/software generation than HR. Part of me wants to experiment with ReShade or ENB to see if that could be fixed, but that would require me to be still interested in the game itself.

          But also I have a thing where I kinda get Seasonal Effective Disorder from some video game environments. I’ve never gotten it from IRL places, but there’s certain types of game environments that kinda grind me down emotionally just by being there for too long. A lot of the environments in DE:MD had that effect (not just Prague), so in that respect you’re correct, I was already kind of “wearing out” on the game at that point. And the fact that I knew I had no story closure to work towards gave things an underlying feel of pointlessness that had to be actively countered by in-the-moment fun I wasn’t quite having enough of.

          The “decision” mission was definitely the straw that broke the camel’s back… but that shouldn’t be taken to mean it was a small straw.

          1. Jeff says:

            I just spent over 20 minutes trying to see what this “decision” is, and frankly I’m fed up. However important this was to you, clearly it wasn’t to me or the wiki. At least throw out initials here, who are you talking about?

      2. CBob says:

        No.

        To illustrate, I’ll contrast with another better executed version of this idea: the Kaiden/Ashley choice in Mass Effect. There is no objectively “right” choice, and the stakes are equally balanced, BUT ask 5 different people who they chose and why, and you’ll get 5 different answers, but what you won’t get is people unsure of their answers. You’ll find that regardless of who they chose, they had their own internal logic for that pushed the choice one way or another. Very few will have felt it was a coin toss. The thing that made it hard was that they couldn’t save both, but when forced they were all able to find some metric, some person hierarchy of priorities by which to parse the choice.

        I chose to sacrifice Kaiden. While I found him more sympathetic than Ashley, I found Ashley more useful as a squad member: I’d found she had a strong specialty as a combat heavy, whereas Kaiden was just sort of “also there” regardless of mission profile. Plus I didn’t like how he kept trying to hit on his own commanding officer.

        A lot of other people sacrificed Ashley because they felt her xenophobic beliefs had no place on the squad, and/or found more utility Kaiden’s biotic abilities than I did.

        Neither of these are “correct”. Neither negates the harshness of having to choose one of your squadmates to sacrifice. It’s a hard decision, but one which can be parsed, AND which generates an interesting dialogue between different players’ answers.

        The decision in DE:MD was badly done because the designers clearly tried to metagame this process so that regardless of what priorities I had a a player, or what kind of personality or priorities I chose to project onto Jensen, the choice is still perfectly balanced. The choice is not “too balanced” because I want to save both equally, it’s “too balanced” because there is no way to flow-chart it regardless of my priorities.

        Furthermore, the same is true in real life, in my experience. Difficult choices happen, true, but choices that are so finely balanced as to be coin toss from every angle practically have to be deliberately manufactured. Technically they can happen “naturally” but so many independent conditions need to “just happen’ to be perfectly balanced that it’s probably almost literally worse than the chances of a flipped coin landing on-edge.

        In fact the only way such things tend to actually happen is not because conditions are magically perfectly balanced, but because one’s ignorance of the conditions is balanced in its near totality. I.e. you can’t parse it because you don’t know enough. This is also rare in the wild, because there’s ways of logically sorting unknowns as well (there’s entire disciplines of risk-management surrounding this sort of thing, for one). It’s also not the case with the decision in Mankind Divided: you have plenty of info to work with, it’s just all unnaturally perfectly balanced.

        There’s always a priority flowchart you can mentally make to help tip the decision, but that’s not the same thing as the choice being “easy”. The thing that makes such decisions “hard” is not wanting to fail/screw either party, regardless of the situational logic, and/or the fact that the decision can’t be clean: even the “correct” choice for your priorities (and information) will have unavoidable negative consequences. This is [i]not[/i] the same as all the metrics being balanced. That’s what the writers of Mass Effect understood, and the writers of Mankind Divided did not.

        What I DO see a lot IRL is people who for one reason or another give up early when faced with tricky problems, then justify that by romanticising the idea of being “strong enough to make hard choices”. This results in them increasingly making “hard choices” when they actually had many other viable options. A lot of popular fiction in the past 15-20 years has pandered to this sort of thinking. I hate it because it basically acts like propaganda, artificially accelerating people’s tendency to give up on problems early in favor of “making hard choices” by selling the idea that this is “realistic” back to them.

        So when I see this moment in Mankind Divided that’s so thoroughly overengineered to be unnaturally perfectly equal from all possible angles, I don’t see realism. I see a poorly constructed thermian argument trying to push childish “hard choices” wankery.

        BUT, even if one disagrees with any or all of that, on an even higher level realism is not the deciding factor here. This is about satisfaction. It’s inherently accepted that a game about a bionic man who can shoot knives out of his forearms in a world where every conspiracy theory is true will bend realism more than a little in the name of style. However if a game presents me with something I find so unsatisfying that it brickwalls my desire to continue playing, then that’s an indictment in its own right. A sufficiently bullshit choice is just as bad as a sufficiently bullshit bossfight, or a sufficiently bullshit escort mission, or a sufficiently bullshit unpatched glitch, etc. If it’s bad enough to make the player go “fuck this” and never come back, it’s massive design screw-up, no matter what “it” is.

        1. CBob says:

          A little more succinctly (because I made the incognito mode mistake again):

          1)I don’t find it very realistic. IMO it only seems profound to edgelords who’ve sold themselves on the idea of life being full of bleak “hard choices” so they don’t have to admit there are huge gaps in their problem solving skills.

          2) It doesn’t matter if it’s deliberate, and therefore a “success”. A successfully executed bad idea is not the same as a good idea, and devs are not infallible popes of creative wisdom just because they’re devs. Oh, you want to embody a theme about the futility of trying to solve problems or emotional investment? Well, guess what fictional entertainment media is predicated on? Guess what gameplay is predicated on? Players losing investment and interest in your game is the direct logical product of successfully embodying that theme. So congrats: you’ve played yourself.

          3) I don’t think that’s what the devs were going for anyway. I think they were trying to copy similar moments in other games, but didn’t know how or why those moments worked.

          1. Dreadjaws says:

            You’re spending a lot of words to just repeat your very same point, which I still disagree with because you have said nothing that at any point disproves what I said. This isn’t a problem with design, it’s a problem of your personal preference not being satisfied. How can you say you don’t find it realistic or that it’s for “edgelords” who think life is full of hard choices? It’s not like the whole game is like that. They only do it a couple of times. Most other choices in the game are a matter of weighing pros and cons. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill because you happened to not like something from a game. Nothing wrong with not liking something, but don’t blame the devs for this, when clearly you’re the one with the problem.

            You might have a point if your experience with the game was the norm, but it very, very evidently isn’t. Most people really like the game, even those who don’t care for the heavy-handed way the main story is handled, so clearly there’s no such thing as lost investment for most players. Like I said, it’s you who doesn’t particularly like that stuff. Don’t try to pretend it’s an issue.

            1. Asdasd says:

              Critiquing post length doesn’t strike me as good faith or a worthy thing to do. I’ve found CBob’s posts on this discussion have been interesting (as I have yours), and I must have failed to notice the rule that says they’re not allowed to use as many words as they feel necessary to express themselves.

              Try to play the ball, not the man.

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                I’d be in so much trouble…

  23. Milo Christiansen says:

    Using ZFS via FreeNAS is The Way to Go for a hmae file server if you want something simple. From there, there is a universe of possibility slowly getting more and more complicated.

    I strongly recommend ZFS though. No matter what operating system you use, make sure your files are stored on a ZFS array, it makes everything way easier. I even have mine set up so that hourly ZFS snapshots show up in Windows clients as backups (since the snapshots are “free” if nothing changed hourly almost-backups isn’t as insane as it sounds).

  24. CBob says:

    When it comes to the body count issue, in most games I’ve always eractivity quotakind of assumed that what we’re experiencing isn’t literal. Like, in the reality of the story, Nathan Drake only shoots like, maybe half a dozen people in the course of that adventure, The hoards and hoards and hoards that he shoots in the game are just gameplay fluff.

    It’s sort of like how size and distance are “negotiable” in games. Skyrim is implied to “actually” something like 1500 miles from Markarth to Riften, but in-game it’s a small state park at most. The cities in Skyrim are tiny compared to what they’re supposed to to be in-fiction, and farmland and trade are merely implied in the most token of ways. The outside of the Ebon Hawk is like 1/2 the size it should be because of map size issues, and the inside is twice the size it should be because of old-school 3rd person camera issues. So I assume these depictions aren’t literal no matter how realistic the graphics are: they’re merely like strategy-game style symbolic icons you can walk around in. I view body counts and the frequency of combat encounters as being the same sort of stretching of the actual fictional “reality” in order to accommodate the media.

    I feel like this is a predictable and inevitable consequence of combat being a major focus in games. Even in the most frenetic of action movies, you don’t have nearly the kind of density of combat that a game *requires* to fill its interactivity quota for a given scene. If your game is going to be based around combat in a way that *feels* equivalent to an action movie, then that shit has to be stacked on a level that’s far beyond natural in an actual action movie, any other media (never mind reality). If you want Nathan Drake to only be seen to kill a “realistic” number of people, you have to drastically change the nature of the game and the mechanics it relies on. You can’t have a shooter without filling the runtime with shooting.

    Like, even in relatively low-key action, this is still the case. The Shadowrun games are basically heist stories with a smattering of action, and even in those, your char inevitably ends up having a much bigger body count than many IRL front-line soldiers. In nearly every game where combat and/or killing is part of the main gameplay, you WILL be an enormous mass-murderer by IRL standards, no matter how much of an innocent pacifist woobie underdog you are according to the story.

    For Nathan Drake to only kill the same number of people in 2 hours of screentime that Indiana Jones does, Uncharted would have to no longer be an action game. That sounds weird, but that’s how the math works out when killing is your gameplay.

    This seems obvious to me, so when people single it out, it feels weird. Sorta like when people say there are no bathrooms on the starship Enterprise because we’ve never been shown one on screen. It makes sense as a joke, but not as a literal point of confusion. Of course the starship Enterprise has bathrooms. Of course Whiterun is much larger than a dozen buildings in “real” life. Of course Nathan Drake can count the lifetime number of actual shootouts he’s been in without taking off his shoes.

    1. CBob says:

      Addendum (I stupidly posted with my browser in private/incognito mode, so couldn’t edit):

      There are forms of gameplay that get around this. Stealth games and games that allow for stealth options, obviously (Dishonored series, Deus Ex, etc.). But most games where combat is a major gameplay element don’t allow for this: they think combat is what everyone wants, so they make it mandatory, which means killing is mandatory. A lot of killing.

      So not as drastic as I initially said, but the basic point still stands: if you want a “realistic” body count, you need to change the game’s genre.

      I wanna say tone plays a role too. If your char acts reluctant and scared, people might roll with it more, while if your char acts sadistic or thrill-seeking in combat, it makes it stand out more. But the Tomb Raider reboot kinda disproved that. Lara goes through the first game, at least, in “ohshitohshitohshit” mode, but that didn’t stop people from nitpicking just how very, very many people she ends up killing.

      1. Syal says:

        which means killing is mandatory.

        Well, that’s the standard, but there’s no particular reason you have to kill everyone you fight. Nathan Drake could spend the whole game fighting the same twenty guys, if the game had them run away or get incapacitated instead of dying.

        1. CBob says:

          Picture having gunfights with the same people over and over and over again without anyone dying, without it turning into a joke (G.I. Joe, or Naked Gun, take your pick).

          You’d have to change the mechanics away from the regular shooter mechanics for that to work. Turn engagements into more paced out, more character-driven scenes rather than just action gunfights for the sake of gunfights. Give the individual fights real plot significance instead of just “and now we switch to the shooting part again”. As-is, those gunfights are only fungible gameplay filler*, so stripping them of even the satisfaction of a power-fantasy “win” for the player would only make the player consciously aware of their pointlessness. To a player with a gun in his/her hand, that’s gonna feel like repetitive mandatory cutscene incompetence, even if their character is technically winning the engagements by forcing a retreat.

          Like I said: you’d have to in some way or another change the genre in order to get away from the body count.

          *Pick a gunfight at random, and mentally remove it from the script. Does it make any difference other than a longer cutscene, or a longer period of just walking/climbing? A few probably will, but the vast majority won’t.

          1. Syal says:

            I mean Commando is also a joke. Kill a mook every battle to avoid the Saturday Morning Cartoon feel, with the others getting injured, dropping their guns and either retreating, or falling down disabled and the protag unwilling to kill people who can’t fight anymore. Twenty guys with one death per fight gives twenty fights, add guys as needed to still have sizable groups in endgame.

            1. Philadelphus says:

              I’d love to see games with less “fight-to-the-death” mentality for enemies in general. That might make sense if you’re fighting robots or magical disposable animated constructs, but most battles don’t end by killing everyone in the opposing army, they end when the enemy’s morale breaks and they either break and run or surrender. Sure, you can think of ways to justify it, but just think how much depth this could add to games if your enemies have a chance (which could itself depend on all kinds of factors players could influence) to not fanatically fight to the death! You could choose to try to play as a pacifist, where you try to get the enemies to surrender/run away instead of fighting, and honor their surrender. Or you could play a bloodthirsty killer and try to actually kill them before they get away. If they surrender, do you accept? Do you then turn around and kill them in cold blood? So many fascinating possibilities when enemies aren’t all just disposable “shoot until it stops moving” monsters!

              (Come to think of it, maybe this is one of the things I like about FTL: Faster Than Light, as many enemies [except drones] will attempt to surrender if they get low enough on health, which gives you the option of accepting or rejecting, for different rewards. It’s quite basic—you can’t, say, build up a reputation as someone who never accepts pirates’ surrender such that they all start trying to flee as soon as you show up—but it at least gives you the opportunity to role-play some nuance with your ship/crew.)

              1. tmtvl says:

                Skyrim had enemies pretend to surrender, but never surrender for real. Doing so is a war crime, but it’s a video game, so w/e.

                1. Syal says:

                  Recently watched someone play Front Mission 3, and surrendering is a mechanic in that one; if you disable an enemy without killing them they’ll surrender and you get to keep their mech.

                  1. tmtvl says:

                    Yes, while there are ways to try and take out an enemy wanzer (giant robot) pilot, getting their HP down so they lose morale and then cherry-tapping them so they surrender is the easiest way to get spare wanzers to strip for parts or sell.

              2. Sleeping Dragon says:

                Yeah, gotta admire that last bandit who still fights to the bitter end against your party of six who have just slaughtered a dozen or so guys just like him without even slowing down much.

                1. Thomas says:

                  Uncharted 3 was hilarious for this. They’d be hanging of the end of a plane with one hand, and still use the other to reach for their Uzi. Or they’re in a sinking ship and the flood water is rising to their waist – but they need to make sure you’re dead first. And then there’s the burning building… I don’t know if anyone made it through that game without thinking these henchmen needed a better healthcare plan.

                2. Syal says:

                  My favorite example was the Supergirl movie where she runs into three potential rapists. She throws one away with one hand, then shoves another one through a fence with her breath, and the third guy is like, “well, I still think trying to sexually assault this person is a good use of my time.”

              3. Randint says:

                Unfortunately, there are still a few gameplay issues with having enemies that flee.

                The first is that from a gameplay standpoint, the player is going to want to have clear immediate goals. “Five bandits are attacking you. Kill them all to proceed” is a clear immediate goal. “Kill enough of them that the rest run away” is not. You could get around this by having some sort of counter or enemy-morale-meter visible to the player so that they know what that threshold is, but for many players this would possibly be immersion-breaking. (It would probably make WOW-style “You only need to kill 5 bandits” quests make more sense, though).

                The second is that (as has already been pointed out), combat is the main content of most games. Having enemies run away after reaching a certain percentage of their original strength (or whatever other factors are used for the decision) is essentially removing content, and both designers and players are going to want this to be compensated for in some way (probably by increasing the number or size of fights present in the game). However, this is just shifting ludonarrative dissonance to a different area – the body counts of game protagonists were the topic here, but one must also consider the issue of enemy counts.

                Let’s say that one third of enemies run away, and that the developer decides to double the number of enemies (someone who flees isn’t as much content as someone who fights to the death, but they’re still content, so the hypothetical developer considers this an even trade). Now, instead of the hero singlehandedly fighting through a base with 12 enemies (which already seems hyper-competent to me, and this seems to me like it would be a relatively small base in video game terms), they are singlehandedly fighting 24. They’re not killing all of them, but we’ve still increased the “hyper-competent action hero” factor in one way while trying to reduce it in another.

                This reduction also runs into the issue of whether there would be any meaningful effect on the dissonance: If you cut the main character’s body count from 200 to 20, you’ve still got a large number that will cause narrative issues.

                The third issue is one of player reaction. As mentioned earlier, fights are content, and are likely what the player wants to engage in (at least from the perspective of addressing “what if enemies ran from fights they were losing”. Obviously there are things like stealth games where combat is a failure mode of the primary mechanics (ie. Getting caught while sneaking)). Even if you adjust the number of enemies to satisfy the player and they’re still getting the same level of content, they’ll still likely see this as the game dangling content in front of them and then yanking it away. This effect will be even stronger if the player gets loot/experience/ammunition from killed enemies: FTL’s mechanic works because the surrender offering is comparable to what you get from blowing the ship up, but in a game where you’re fighting ground troops you’d have to figure out how a surrender would offer the player something that they can’t get from just looting bodies.

                These problems aren’t insurmountable, but the idea does introduce fairly major gameplay issues that would need to be worked out.

                1. Syal says:

                  I assume this is replying to me and not Philadelphus, the nesting has gotten to the point I can’t tell.

                  I actually meant “replace the death animation with an injured retreating animation”. If it takes five shots to kill an enemy right now, change it so the fifth shot gives them a flashy “I’m out of the fight” wound and they drop their weapon and run off. Deaths would be scripted in some way, either a set person in each battle, or the last guy to go down, or the most aggressive enemy. So no new morale system, no rebalancing of any kind, just an animation change. (Admittedly there’d be other issues for deathtrap setpiece fights with vehicle explosions and cliffs with spikes at the bottom, but for flat terrain you can make it work.)

                  I mentioned elsewhere, my dissonance comes from “where are these enemies coming from?” I can accept a villain hiring twenty mercenaries for their treasure hunt much more easily than I can accept them hiring two hundred. I can also accept a hero beating twenty guys he’s already beaten earlier moreso than the hero beating brand new twenty-man groups all the time.

                  1. Randint says:

                    It actually was a reply to Philadelphus’s post about a system where losing enemies would flee and it would be up to the player whether or not to pursue them.

                    In regards to yours, IIRC Trails in the Sky had something that wasn’t exactly your suggestion, but had a similar effect: Enemies didn’t flee, but rather when defeated the human enemies would drop down to one knee, indicating that they were still alive but too injured to fight. (Although I’m pretty sure the developer’s motive wasn’t the issue of how the villains had so many troops, but rather that the story is rather idealistic and they probably felt that having the mooks get killed by the main characters wouldn’t fit that tone).

  25. Gautsu says:

    Shamus about 8 years ago I was diagnosed pre-diabetic. Two years that upgraded. A large portion of the reason was the weight I had put on for various reasons (age, my job in security being less active than my time in the military, etc..). My doctor’s #1 recommendation to get healthier was to lose weight. We talked nutrition and broke it down to the basest level: take in less than you burn. Don’t worry about diets, continue to exercise, but ignore the nutrition (eat healthy but don’t adjust what you eat, just adjust the amount). I downloaded an app that let me track my caloric content each day, and tried to have some willpower (the hardest part for me since eating has become my only vice since quitting smoking and drinking). I was able to lose 40 lbs over a year of watching my intake and lightly exercising each week; my A1C halved, my blood pressure is the lowest it has ever been, my cholesterol the lowest as well. Losing weight is hard, but has probably the greatest single impact on health that any decision can have for someone.

  26. Mako says:

    Take care of yourself, Shamus! Hope your health improves very soon.

    Re: Dreamfall and its ending – I agree with pretty much everything you said, but at least there is a silver lining: Dreamfall Chapters (the third game) is actually so great it completely makes up (and then some!) for the ending of Dreamfall and the 10 year wait for the sequel. This is from someone who grew up with The Longest Journey, got Dreamfall at launch and was gobsmacked by the ending.

    If you feel like revisiting the series, I cannot recommend Dreamfall Chapters enough.

    1. Thomas says:

      Dreamfall Chapter is my happiest kickstarter experience. To see something made that is not only good, but finished a question left hanging for a decade.

      1. Mako says:

        Right? I could hardly believe how good it was. I just found my old post on RTG forums written right after finishing the game and I had been reduced to a barely comprehensible cocktail of uncontrollable joy, squeee and random quotes from the last episode.

    2. DeadlyDark says:

      I am a wrong person to persuade Shamus to reconsider his stance on Dreamfall, since I spent an unreasonable amount of money on this Kickstarter. But yeah, Chapters, while not perfect story-wise, is still a great experience and conclusion

  27. Scerro says:

    I personally think a server isn’t necessary, unless you’re planning for long term storage and want ensured long term data storage.

    Set up a directory for Windows Sharing, and let him directly access it across your network. Just right click Properties on the folder, click the sharing tab, and set up local accounts or just free for all and let “EVERYONE” have access to the folder.

    On his machine, then he’d just need to type in Windows explorer \\[ShamusPC]\ and it’d bring up a list of shares on your machine. Of course [ShamusPC] would be replaced with the actual computer name of your PC. Alternatively you could use your computer’s IP address. Even with a server you’ll be setting up shares just like this.

    A (loose) guide with pictures: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4092694/windows-10-file-sharing-over-a-network

    Downside to that is he could pull data from your machine while you’re gaming, causing a lot of I/O and slowing down things, depending on the drive he’s pulling from. If you don’t want that to happen, using an intermediary machine is fine.

  28. Grimwear says:

    So there’s one thing I don’t understand. People always talk about the Summer drought for games but why does it exist? I mean I understand that a lot of publishers want to postpone for 3 months to hit the Christmas release but if you’re sitting there with end of June-end of August drought why wouldn’t you want to release your game then? Kids are out of school so parents would be looking for anything to occupy their time. Not everyone can afford camp or babysitters. Even university students are spending the summer months working but their evenings are free of homework. You have all these consumers sitting around with nothing to play. I mean movie theatres purposefully release their big budget action Transformers movie schlock during the Summer because all the kids go to see it so why don’t any game devs schedule their releases for this currently empty time?

    1. tmtvl says:

      Collusion, the big came publishers conspire with the movie studios to divide up the various parts of the year to drain all your money. Yes, I am wearing my tinfoil hat, why do you ask?

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Some part of it is probably the inevitable delays, if your game gets delayed from, say, late spring/early summer you might as well hold it until the pre-holiday spending spree. The merits of this are debatable but I think it’s one of those “business wisdoms” that are followed blindly by some people.

      The reality of it though is that the “Summer Gaming Drought” is something of a myth particularly nowadays. Yes, there may not be many AAA titles coming out (possibly because of the business executives being stuck in their ways) but you don’t even have to delve into indies* to see that smaller devs are releasing stuff all the bloody time. And the idea that “there is nothing to play” is outright ridiculous. Even if someone is only interested in big name releases it is highly unlikely they’ve worked their way through the major titles of last season by this point. I don’t want to go “wake up sheeple” on this but seriously, if someone says there is nothing to play I feel like they might be more addicted to getting the newest hyped thing than actually playing the games.

      *I think this term is becoming increasingly meaningless the way it is used.

  29. Duoae says:

    I hope you manage to improve your health, Shamus. The last update you had on things was that you were making progress, doing some exercise at home so fingers crossed you get this under control!

    Regarding the game delays, i think that the supply chain side of the virus has been much less disrupted than the collaborative development process. However, I am not even sure about that reason for some of these delays. It looks like Cyberpunk would have been delayed anyway but i do wonder about other delays are due to aging compatibility with the next gen consoles…

    I wish Paul all the best. I was unemployed for 6 months last year and found a position literally 2 weeks before the virus really took off in terms of social and business impact.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Thanks Duoae. Extended unemployment is a real trial. How are you doing now? Were you able to stay in the new job? You’ve been able to keep your blog updates coming out anyhow.

      1. Duoae says:

        Hey, Paul!

        Yes, still in the new job. My sector is healthcare-based so not really affected by job losses at this point in time. In fact, we have a super busy year ahead and our company is hiring for various positions.

        I’m not really able to dedicate much time to the blog and I’m one of those people who take quite a long time to write a post but yeah, i want to try and keep it up.

        I’ve actually been unemployed for a net period of 2 years out of the last 12 so a bit used to it but, yeah, it’s not easy. I wish you all the best in your search!

  30. pseudonym says:

    So sad to hear about your health situation Shamus, I hope it gets better soon.

    My wife is pregnant right now, and high blood pressure is considered quite bad in that situation. Therefore we have received advice on foods to avoid:

    – Cafeine. At most one cup of coffee a day, at most three cups of tea. Energy drinks are out of the question. Switching to herbal tea such as rooibos can help but beware of some herbal teas, liquorice also induces high blood pressure.
    – Limited salt (sodium) intake. Most processed foods contain lavish amounts of salt. Check the packaging.

    Eating the recommended two hundred grams of vegetables and two pieces of fruit a day should help.

    Avoiding stress might be a bit hard during a move. But hiring professional movers goes a long way, especially if they also do the packing. This costs money, but I am sure that if you put a little fundraiser post on the blog I am sure the readership wants to help you. I certainly do.

    As for exercise: walking counts as exercise and it also reduces stress. Win-win! You have a blog post somewhere where you describe that you loved the walks around town with your daughter. I don’t know if this is still one of your habits, but I am sure it will help.

    1. pseudonym says:

      Whoops, turns out that you are already doing all of this. Sorry for uttering all sorts of useless advice because I responded to the post instead of listening to the podcast first. I am sorry.

      Anyway, a change of lifestyle is easier if gets accompanied by change in evnvironment. So you got that covered! Good luck!

  31. Philadelphus says:

    Sorry to hear about your job Paul, hope a new (and maybe better?) one comes along soon. And thanks for alerting me to the Noita beta branch, I just checked it out and it’s got some interesting-sound additions.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Thanks! Hopefully better, yes.
      Yeah, I hope the Noita update gets released soon. I learned about it myself from watching SimoSimo’s video.

  32. doppleganger says:

    Hey, I hope your move went smoothly.

    Regarding your blood pressure, weight gain, etc. I was thinking to myself that you are possibly developing metabolic syndrom (almost synonymous with insulin resistance). Here is a podcast that might interest you ( a Peter Attia podcast, an MD that likes to dig in science):
    #87 – Rick Johnson, M.D.: Fructose—The common link in high blood pressure, insulin resistance, T2D, & obesity?
    https://peterattiamd.com/rickjohnson/

  33. Nimrandir says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the struggles you two are facing. I don’t have any advice, but you’re in my thoughts.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Likewise. Unemployment and health scares both suck big time and I’m very sorry to hear you’re going through them.

  34. Dreadjaws says:

    No spoilers, but I feel The Last of Us II suffers from this problem of “absurd video game body counts”. It’s far from its only issue, but it gets really ridiculous because it’s a game where the world is filled with zombies and monsters. This whole deal shouldn’t be a problem. Yet the game still tries to make a point about how killing is wrong, and I feel that point would have come across better if they didn’t have the character kill so many perfectly conscious humans without wincing.

    Again, in a game like Uncharted, which is more realistic, it’s understandable. Your choice of enemies is always going to be mostly mercenaries, pirates and the like. But here? You have zombies! You have monsters! And they’re not an isolated incident like they’d be in a Resident Evil game. They’re literally a planet-wide plague. Have the character kill mostly these creatures, so when the time comes to say “Hey, guys, killing people is not the way to go” it doesn’t sound so hypocritically ridiculous. Hey, the game has stealth mechanics. If having to pass by humans becomes unavoidable, then make the character use these mechanics to avoid them, rather to simply kill them silently. There’s really no excuse.

    It’s GTA IV all over again. “Oh, I feel so bad about killing a couple men back then. Their deaths never stop haunting me in my nightmares. Now, excuse me for a moment, I’m gonna go explode a couple hundred people in my way to get some drugs to sell. Be right back!”

    1. tmtvl says:

      Disconarrative Ludonance.

      1. Redrock says:

        Sounds like an achievement one can unlock in Disco Elysium.

    2. Redrock says:

      From playing the first couple of hours of TLOU 2 I got the impression that Naughty Dog’s primary motivation in making that game was to respond to all the fans making fun of the, yes, ludonarrative dissonance in the Uncharted series. It’s like the developers are saying “So, you thought the way our boy Nathan Drake plowed through hundreds of men while cracking wise and staying a lovable debonair adventurer was something to make fun of, huh? Though you sounded smart by pointing out the dissonance in our carefully crafted interactive experience? Well, we hear ya, we read the blog posts and we see the memes. You know we do, because we even had a passive-agressive “Ludonarrative dissonance” achievement in Uncharted 4. But now we’re gonna make you kill dozens of people (and their dogs) and emphasize how horrible, unpleasant and generally bad it is, every single time, while telling you a story about how violence is bad. Wish you didn’t make fun of our boy Drake now, do you? Well, it’s too late, you dog murderer!”.

      Or something like that, anyway. TLOU2 feels like an attempt at an anti-ludonarrative dissonance game. I don’t think it’s succeeding, but I’ll have to play more to know for sure. For now it seems that it’s simultaneously not fun, but also not good at making any sort of point in the way that other unpleasant games do, like This War of Mine or Pathologic.

      1. Thomas says:

        In the Last of Us 1, during the final firefight I was feeling this very bad. Hang on, the world is on it’s knees and now Joel is killing half of what’s left of it. Is anything really worth this? It was getting actively unpleasant for me to play, and it culminated in a button prompt to do an action that I just didn’t want to do anymore and the game froze and wouldn’t let me not press that button.

        So I was impressed when after pressing that button, the game explicitly separated the relationship between me the player and Joel the character and asked some of those questions. But I’m not convinced you could pull that off a second time – not in the same world you did it in the first time.

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          Indeed. That worked because it was the end of the game and, well, you were supposed to understand want Joel did but not necessarily agree with him or even sympathize.

          Now imagine that… but throughout a whole game. That’s the sequel. Except they don’t bother asking those questions this time.

        2. Redrock says:

          The ending of the first game never really worked for me in the same way it did for many others – I didn’t particularly feel like Joel was doing the wrong thing there. The Fireflies are largely shown to be incompetent assholes. Their rush to cut up Ellie is absurd, their treatment of Joel is the definition of asking of trouble. Rather than kill him, restrain him, convince or lie to him they let one guy try and escort this highly capable and proven murderer out of the building. No way in hell those people can develop, produce or distribute any sort of vaccine. Problem is, some people back then thought all that was intentional on the writer’s part, a semi-hidden justification of Joel’s action. But the way the sequel doubles down on the idea of Joel being in the wrong there, it seems that this yet another Naughty Dog plothole. Now, to be clear, I quite like Naughty Dog as a developer, but, man, do these guys take themselves way too seriously.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        For now it seems that it’s simultaneously not fun, but also not good at making any sort of point in the way that other unpleasant games do, like This War of Mine or Pathologic.

        This is pretty much the whole thing. Naughty Dog took their “We don’t make fun things” mantra too literally. They made sure the game wasn’t fun, but they forgot to put something else to engage the player. The gameplay is certainly not going to do the job, since it’s as pedestrian as in the first game.

        I’m frankly flabbergasted at the rave reviews the game has gotten from critics. It looks like we got another “The Last Jedi” in our hands. Like, I mean, it’s not terrible or anything like that, but it certainly doesn’t skirt past mediocrity in anything except graphics.

  35. Christopher says:

    I wish you the best of luck, the blood pressure thing sounds pretty scary. Hope it works out.

  36. MarWes says:

    Regarding LOTRO, I think the Shire is largely unchanged. The tutorial has been revamped (Strider and the Hobbits are introduced much earlier now), Bree-land has been revamped, a lot of the gameplay systems have been revamped… but the Shire remains untouched, I’ve played through it recently and it’s still the whimsical, silly place that we see in the Let’s Play, with the mail deliveries, the pie collecting, and the killing of excessive amounts of bears.

    It really is a shame that Lulzy had to retire, I would have loved to see her travel south through Enedwaith and Dunland with the Rangers of the Grey Company.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      You didn’t confirm the most important part — do you still play hide-and-seek for money?

      1. MarWes says:

        They do indeed still play hide-and-seek for money, and the hiders still find the most obvious hiding places possible.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          My second character was going to be a hobbit, until my son took an interest in LotRO. He had his heart set on playing a lore-master, so we both started as elves.

          As such, I still haven’t experienced the Shire starting zone.

  37. It’s entirely possible that some of the revamps were the result of Shamus’ posts . . . in the time I’ve been playing DDO they’ve adopted several hundred suggestions of mine, including a rework of a rather annoying quest to make it much less annoying.

  38. Karthik says:

    Shamus, have you heard of Syncthing? if you want to share files between computers on a local network, I highly recommend it. It’s like Dropbox but peer to peer and secure. You can also install it on a server and use it over the Internet like Dropbox (as a cloud sync solution), and you can selectively share drives/folders. It’s free and open source, OS-agnostic, there’s no BS and setting up sync is dead simple.

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      Came here to add my support for syncthing. Been using it for several years, at work and at home, Windows to Linux and back again. The only time it had issues was when I was using symlinks on Linux (which are just too damn practical but Windows can’t handle them, so they can’t be synced)

      Plain syncthing has a local web interface (optionally addressable from other machines, too) if you’re into that sort of thing, otherwise there are GUIs available. I use use syncthingGTK on Linux, and on Windows it’s Synctrayzor.

      Syncthing will move data directly between partaking machines (which can be authenticated, and introduced to each other), whenever they’re running at the same time, and you can have as many machines sharing stuff as you like, which means that any crappy old box (or NAS) running in your closet will do if you need to make sure than everyone can access the latest version at all times — but even if/when that one should fail or break, all clients still have their local copies and can talk to each other.

      It’s even got versioning (user decides: last x versions, al versions for x days, nothing, or … forgot) in case somebody deletes or overwrites something by mistake, and flags up file conflicts (if a file was changed on more than one machine between syncing events).

      ==> big recommmendation! The only thing it does not give you is off-site back-up, and the versioning is of course not as sophisticated as with Git or Mercurial.

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