Diecast #339: Six Days in Procgen

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 5, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 58 comments

It’s Monday, which means you get another hour of my droning voice and stumbling digressions. And also Paul, when he’s not giving me the silent treatment. This week we’re talking about Starcraft 2 tournaments in the age of COVID, Neverout, and Six Days in Fallujah.



Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.
Diecast339


Link (YouTube)

Show notes:

00:00 The book is “Done”. Now the REAL work begins.

I showed off the cover last week. The one change I’m going to make is that the N7 logo will be replaced with a TM symbol.

03:17 SketchFab

Here is Paul’s collection. And here is the cool Tetrahedral Planet I was talking about.

05:50 Starcraft 2 Games.

Here is a link to the janky-cam footage I was talking about, where green-screened hosts are projected into a fake environment.

14:32 DaVinci Resolve Reprise

19:25 NO TMBG DRM FTW

Any They Might be Giants fans out there? They’re probably my favorite band that I never listen to, for all the reasons I described on the show.

23:51 Neverout (game)

The trailer sold me on the game. Thankfully, Paul was there to un-sell me before I did something foolish.

27:35 A NEW CAR!

A 2014 Toyota Prius. I haven’t driven it yet. In fact, I’ve only been inside it for a few minutes. But I will say that Heather seems happy and it looks nice in the driveway.

37:25 Mailbag: Six Days In Fallujah

Hi!

I don’t know if you watched the gameplay reveal for Six Days In Fallujah. Probably not. I’m tossing aside the genre and, errr, themes for the time being, but there was one moment, closer to the end (around here https://youtu.be/VF0c9SwewpA?t=144), where they demonstrated the proc-gen generation not just for the individual rooms, but also for the whole map of a district. I know that you, Shamus, is a big proponent of this approach, and I wonder what do you feel about the implementation of this technology here (at least, from what was shown here).

Best regards, DeadlyDark

P.S. Still in shock, that a dozen years later, I’ll finally see this title released.

I know that games that deal with current events are a hot-button topic. And games that deal with current events that are themselves a hot-button topic, is an even hotter button topic. Hopefully we can talk about this without anyone going crazy.

44:08 Mailbag: Pixels Dice

Dear Diecast,

while cruising around on the information superhighway I ran into a neat little project called Pixels*, they’re making neat LED dice that you can program to create neat effects.

While meetups for some dice rolling are still going to be a couple of months out, I thought you (being the Diecast) might like it.

Vale,

-Tim

https://www.pixels-dice.com/

 


From The Archives:
 

58 thoughts on “Diecast #339: Six Days in Procgen

  1. Lino says:

    Hey Shamus, I sent a question from this email on Mar 26th. Did it not get through, or was it just not suitable?

    1. Shamus says:

      Last two emails from you:

      1) Video Game Archeology (Mar 12)
      2) Starcraft fav race (Mar 21)

      That’s all I got.

      1. Lino says:

        Yup, must have not gone through. I just re-sent it.

  2. Chris says:

    The tetrahedral planet link to sketchfab doesn’t work for me (404).

    1. Higher Peanut says:

      Ditto. 404 error

    2. tmtvl says:

      Yeah, I get a weird UUID-like string at the end of the URL when I look at it. Here

  3. Joe says:

    Six Days In Fallujah does not look at all good. Oh, but the gameplay aspects, you might say. Does that justify the themes? No, it doesn’t. Rami Ismael breaks down how terrible it is. https://twitter.com/tha_rami/status/1374448997876736011

    And yes, this is the mild version of a longer bit I just deleted.

    1. Geebs says:

      The doubt I have in my mind is, what if the developers of 6DiF are trying to pull a Spec Ops: The Line-style switcheroo?

      IIRC Yager did a pretty good job of presenting Spec Ops as a generic brown military cover shooter prior to release.

      1. Joe says:

        It’s a possibility, but one I strongly suspect is a forlorn hope.

        1. Lasius says:

          Are you talking about the first soldier to enter the house? Because otherwise your use of the term doesn’t make sense to me.

      2. Crokus Younghand says:

        I’ll not go into details to respect Shamus’s no-politics policy, but the lead devs have shown in their previous lives to not have the kind of views that would lead to the awareness needed to pull a Spec Ops: The Line. Maybe they have changed in the intervening years (a lot has changed, after all), but that’s not an assumption I’ll make until we have some evidence.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          I wouldn’t expect great things from this game. The randomization works to disorient players and put them into the mindset of someone in that conflict, but other things from the gameplay trailer seem a lot more…gamey to me. Your squad-mates take one-button orders, which makes me think they’d act pretty dumb, but in a video-game way, not the way that would make it feel like you’re in a tense, chaotic situation.[1] The marketing language and interviews from that trailer make it seem like it’s going to be a lot closer to a typical power-fantasy game, than something that’s trying to make you feel empathy towards the people involved in the conflict, or think about the nature of warfare or anything like that. So…probably not going to end up with a game worthy of such a heavy topic. :E

          [1] It also seems like a missed opportunity, to make the player manually check their ammo, somewhat like Receiver or the Metro games. Given that they didn’t mention ammo at all, I’m guessing it’s typical one-button-reload, although hopefully not infinite.

      3. Ali S. Fakenamington says:

        There was an interview last month where one of the developers of Spec Ops: The Line was asked about his thoughts on Six Days in Fallujah, and the statements the developers have made. It’s a great watch, I highly recommend it!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB-Qoz8mBxs

        They do talk about the switcheroo, and how marketing actually didn’t really know how to advertise something like this. He also talks about how he prepared a statement in case he would be asked whether Spec Ops was an anti-war game, and then never got asked that question. So, I guess all they had to do to present it as a brown military shooter was to do nothing!

    2. Henson says:

      I don’t see how Rami Ismail could possibly know the game is terrible, seeing as how it doesn’t even have a release date yet. I think I’ll wait in drawing conclusions until people have actually played the thing.

      1. Erik says:

        Did you actually read his thread? He explained it quite clearly.

        You’re free (even encouraged) to wait for more info. But if you’re gonna slag someone for their opinion, at least read what they said. You may not agree, but the reasons as articulated would indeed require major changes to address.

        1. Henson says:

          No, I actually couldn’t view the tweet at the time of posting my comment, despite not even having a twitter account. Don’t know why, but there it is.

          My point of contention is the claim in the comment I was replying to of how “Ismael breaks down how terrible it is” – rather than how “terrible it seems”. Ultimately what is being judged is a trailer; the actual game could be quite different, even if it doesn’t seem very likely. I doubt we’d be able to make definitive statements as to whether or not its themes are justified without access to the final product.

          I’ve got no beef with being skeptical of / unenthused by a game based on marketing materials. But the response seems to indicate going beyond simple skepticism.

          1. evilmrhenry says:

            This is another perspective on the game, by a veteran. It’s also not positive:
            https://thenextweb.com/gaming/2021/02/17/im-an-iraq-war-veteran-and-a-hardcore-wargamer-heres-whats-wrong-with-six-days-in-fallujah/

            And here’s IGN, also talking about the issues. It’s also not positive:
            https://www.ign.com/articles/six-days-in-fallujahs-first-gameplay-trailer-reinforced-many-of-its-harshest-criticisms

            The main issue is that the Fallujah fighting featured a LOT of civilian deaths. This is a real city, and not everyone was able to evacuate. So, how is this going to be gamified? Because I can think of a few ways, each terrible for different reasons.

    3. Thomas says:

      On the gameplay front, the fact it’s been in development for 5 to 12 years (depending on how you count it) makes me sceptical from the get go. Perhaps it will surprise

  4. Lino says:

    I don’t really want to open the Six Days in Fallujah can of worms, but I just wanted to link to this GDC talk about portraying war in video games, given by a guy from the army that’s worked military simulators used by the defense industry (he’s also worked on ARMA, I think).

    Again, contentuous topic, and quite a heavy talk. But I think he really manages to articulate why so many modern shooters fall short of portraying war in a… less than ideal way. At the very least, it helped me realise why I could never connect with these games’ narratives and stories.

    1. Old man says:

      I remember the BF2 mod Project Reality having a pretty interesting take on the war in Iraq (which makes Six Days In Fallujah seem really dated these days). In it, the insurgency maps often had a “civilian” class for the insurgents, which was unarmed save for the ability to throw rocks. However, they could heal armed insurgents, they could climb building with grappling hooks, they had binoculars so they essentially worked as scouts and booby traps.

      Why the latter? Well, the US/UK side was encouraged to arrest insurgents as opposed to killing them. Armed insurgents were of course immensely difficult to arrest (essentially, it was a one-hit melee kill game-mehcanic wise, but for a game with such rigorous realism, getting close to make a melee kill was exceedingly rare), but civilians, as they had no weapons, were not. If you managed an arrest, you were rewarded with intel on enemy weapons caches, destroying of which was the objective of the game.

      However, killing those civilian units was also highly discouraged. Killing a civilian that did not pose a threat (that is, was not actively throwing rocks at you which did do damage) was at first punished only with deduction of completely superfluous points. BUT when the player who killed a civilian was themselves killed, they had a huge penalty to respawning. IIRC, the normal respawn time was between 15-30 seconds, but every civilian killed added 5 minutes to the timer. Not only was this hugely detrimental to your team and squad (think of it like a hockey power play), it was also hugely irritating to the player that had to then wait a long time to be let back in the game.

      Even this small punishment changed the game dynamic a lot. BLUFOR (US/UK) players would indeed actively seek to avoid harming civilians (thus adhering to actual ROE) and even more so, they would avoid shooting blindly at suspected enemy activity lest they kill a civilian while doing it. Meanwhile, the OPFOR (insurgents) took full advantage of this, having civilians move with their arms raised in very public places, tricking BLUFOR troops to try to arrest them only to be met by a hail of gunfire or indeed suicide bombing (they could set IED’s at the feet of said civilian).

      Basically – the game mechanics encouraged behaviour that actually existed in the real world. It of course helped that most devs and player base were veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (some even did their tours of duty inbetween developing). I always thought it was a hugely interesting game mechanic and that it was a pity it wasn’t used more, as it did, in its very inconsequential and sheltered way, offer a glimpse into the thought processes of people involved (those from both sides by the way) in such “contentuous topics”.

      I think Project Reality is still living these days, so I encourage you to look it up, it’s a free game at this point. But the devs and most of the player base seem to have migrated over to Squad.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        This is not something I’d be interested in playing but it sounds fascinating. Leaving the entire political context completely aside (mostly in respect to Shamus’ wishes) I’m really curious about how they worked on the (dis)incentive system and if/how player strategies evolved.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      But I think he really manages to articulate why so many modern shooters fall short of portraying war in a… less than ideal way.

      I mean the simple answer is that they’re trying to portray it in the way that sells the most copies of their $60 videogame and it turns out that has almost nothing to do with some people’s notions of the “ideal” depiction of war. Games aren’t unrealistic because the developers can’t do “better”, but because audiences aren’t interested (the talk even acknowledges this around 2:40). The old saying is that war is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror and no one wants to play a game about boredom. If you as a writer try to to act like “society’s teacher”, you’re going to get a meeting with your boss where he tells you your writing is boring and needs to be more like Call of Duty.

      Expecting commercial entertainment to promote your values is forgetting the meaning of both “commercial” and “entertainment”. Vastly more people want COD than ARMA, so we are going to continue to get lots of COD.

      1. Lino says:

        I never said that all shooters should be the way he suggests. I have no doubt in my mind that mist people wouldn’t play a game like that. There’s a reason why ARMA has only a fraction of the market share CoD and Battlefield have. And that’s OK, if people want to find more about a real war, they’d read the news (or a book).

        Still, I do believe there are ways his ideas could be adapted. Game of Thrones was universally beloved, and one of the reasons for it was the multi-layered nature of the conflict throughout the series. A story-heavy game could absolutely do that by not presenting the conflict in an overly simplistic way. Now, that kind of story would be more at place in an RPG, rather than a shooter.* Still, nothing prevents a writer to hint at a bigger world, even if the main storyline is bare-bones.

        * Although with the plethora of RPG mechanics they shove into shooters nowadays, I think there’s a big overlap in audiences, to the point where some shooter fans may not be opposed to a more involved story

  5. Chris says:

    Talking about game exit quotes. I always liked the ones of daikatana. With things like “do you want to quit the game like you did with everything else in life”. Perfect for a game that terrible.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      I’ve never played Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, but I happen to know its quit-screen quote and funnily enough it shows up word-for-word in Surviving Mars, which I’ve been playing/speedrunning for achievements lately.

      1. John says:

        The nice thing about Alpha Centauri is that it doesn’t play that clip every single time you exit the game. Instead, I’d estimate that it plays the clip maybe a quarter to a third of the time. The result is that even though I’ve been playing Alpha Centauri for decades now, hearing that clip is still just a little bit special.

        Incidentally, all of the audio clips used in Alpha Centauri are unencrypted and uncompressed .wav files. If you’ve got the game installed and you’re willing to browse the game’s data directories, they are all there for the taking. (I’m not sure if they’re available in unencrypted, uncompressed form on the install CD, which would be handy, but if you’re playing Alpha Centauri in this day and age then you are most likely playing the GOG version and don’t have the install CD anyway.) When I wanted an audio clip for the program a program I was writing to play when a timer ran out, I snagged a clip of the Alpha Centauri computer-voice man saying “Your time has expired”. It seemed appropriate. Funnily enough, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the game play that particular clip.

        1. Chris says:

          Sounds like a clip for multiplayer with timers on turns. Maybe that’s why you didn’t hear it.

          1. John says:

            I always assumed that it got played around Mission Year 2500 or so when the game automatically ends.

    2. tmtvl says:

      Daikatana may not be the best Gameboy game ever released, but I do think it gets unfairly maligned.

      1. Syal says:

        …that reminds me that there was a Gameboy version of Quest 64, that was apparently a significantly better game than Quest 64.

  6. Echo Tango says:

    The only DRM I put up with, is if it’s on sale or I think I’ll get enough value out of it that I can treat it like going to a movie in a theatre – a one-time purchase for entertainment. Half of my Steam library was at 50% or greater discount, and one time Amazon had the collected works of Lovecraft on sale for precisely one dollar. Other than that, I’d rather just go without a product, or use the ad-ridden version, than give money to people who treat me like a criminal.

    1. tmtvl says:

      What about DRM-free games on Steam?
      The PC gaming wiki has a list, although I don’t know how exhaustive it is.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        I’ve never really bothered. Even with that list / set of instructions, playing the games without Steam is enough of a hassle, that I haven’t bothered. I just considered the money burned at the time of purchase.

    2. Moridin says:

      Lovecraft’s works are in public domain and can be found legally for free on numerous places such as http://www.hplovecraft.com/

      There’s also a youtube channel called Horror Babble that does audio versions of them(and other horror authors whose works are in public domain)

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Some of his works are public domain, but many of his later works are still in an unknown status. Back when I bought them I didn’t care about the nominal fee, but now that I want to read things off of Amazon’s ecosystem, I will only get them DRM-free, public domain or otherwise. :)

  7. Echo Tango says:

    Re: putting gadgets inside of their chargers – isn’t that basically what all the different brands of bluetooth ear-buds do nowadays? They’re all small enough that although you could charge them with a small cable, I think it’s just easier to have a little pod with charging contacts inside of it, and matching contacts on the ear-buds. :)

  8. John says:

    I am a They Might Be Giants fan though I confess that I haven’t really kept up with their more recent albums. That’s not a knock on They Might Be Giants. The albums are still good, or at least I don’t see why they wouldn’t be. It’s just that music isn’t a big part of my life. I don’t keep up with anybody’s more recent albums. Once upon a time, my wife and I used to go browsing in record stores after going out to eat on a Friday night. Those days are over. We moved. We got older. We had a kid. I don’t even know where the nearest record store is any more. Come to think of it, do brick-and-mortar record stores still exist?

    I was about to say that the most recent They Might Be Giants album I own is The Spine from 2004, but a quick check of my phone indicates that I also own Here Come the ABCs from 2005, which is one of their albums for children. The funny thing is that when she was little my daughter liked Flood quite a lot but never showed any interest in Here Come the ABCs. They have apparently released six or seven albums for adults and three more for children since 2005, of which I have heard of exactly one, The Else, which was released in 2007. I am starting to feel like a very bad They Might Be Giants fan. In my defense, They Might Be Giants are still the only band that I have ever gone through the trouble to see play live. It was a pretty good show and I had a good time, but it also convinced me that going out at night to listen to live music was not for me. The show started late, I had to stand the whole time, I had to endure an opening band that I didn’t know and didn’t care about–they weren’t bad or anything, but they weren’t very interesting either–and I was really tired the next day. And that was when I was in my twenties. I can’t imagine even trying something like that now.

    1. Lino says:

      I’m also more fond of their earlier albums. Also, They Might Be Giants has to be the easiest band to recommend to anyone. They’ve gone through so many styles, that there’s bound to be SOMETHING of theirs you’re going to like!

      But what strikes me the most about them is just how consistent they are. Their first album came out in 1986, and LITERALLY every two or three years they’ve put out a new album. Some of their albums are only one year apart! No hiatuses. No brakes. FOR OVER 30 YEARS!!!! It’s simply insane!

      There may be quite a few bands who have been active for 30 years, or even longer. But none that I can think of have been as consistent as They Might Be Giants.

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        I have some examples.

        Motorhead, obviously. Lemmy was a machine

        Black Sabbath. I know that people usually remember Ozzy years, but I found every incarnation of the band to be very strong (Toni Martin era is my favorite), including not officially Black Sabbath, but Black Sabbath in spirit albums from Iommi (Eighth Star with Glenn Hughes and Heaven and Hell album). Iommi is such a hard worker, he’s probably my favorite guitarist (it’s either him or Yngwie, at least). Black Sabbath is the only band where I put all their songs in the playlist, not just the select few

        WASP albums are all more or less on an equal level and I don’t remember any big breaks between them, so they deserve a mention, plus I like their sound

        If we allow one break in their career, I’d also add Accept and Stryper – consistently good albums when it’s hard to decide which one is better

        And, as a honorary mention, I’ll add Muse. Twenty years of stable release schedule with minimal quality deviations. I recently checked some other bands that started roughly the same time as them, that I used to listen to, and either they stopped for seven years (Rammstein, Snow Patrol), or they had some period of weak albums, in my eyes (Kasabian). Very selective search, to be fair. But it made me respect Matt Bellamy and co more

        These are bands that I can think of from the top of my head. I’m sure I could name some more if I think about it properly

        1. Lino says:

          Well, Sabbath do have a hiatus between Forbidden (1995) and 13 (2013), but yes, for more than 35 years they have been pretty consistent. Unlike most people, I mainly associate Sabbath with Dio, so that’s why they didn’t come to mind. And I’ve mainly been interested in Motorhead’s earlier work. And, yes I did forget about WASP and Muse.

          But after posting my original comment, do you know who I also forgot? Rolling Stones! They’ve been at it since 1964, and the only gaps they have are after ’97, with their two latest albums coming out in ’05 and 2013. I mean, are these people immortal? I remember reading that from all of the artists who played at the original Woodstock, they’re the only ones who are still active. Recently I saw their concert in Rio, and I’m still awestruck at how age just doesn’t seem to affect them. I really hope to see them live one day. But it’s hard – not only do they not tour in Europe that often, but every time I’ve tried, tickets go in a matter of minutes!

          But still, as an eclectic music lover I’ll always be impressed at the versatility of They Might Be Giants, as well as their consistency. And although the latter may not be as unique as I originally thought, the former is definitely something you don’t see very often.

          1. DeadlyDark says:

            Oh yeah, I forgot about The Rolling Stones! They certainly count

            As for Sabbath – that’s why I count Iommi collaboration with Hughes and Dio between Forbidden and 13. May be it’s me being a fanboy, but I always saw Black Sabbath as an Iommi band, so your mileage can be different

  9. DeadlyDark says:

    I’m not an american, and I have almost zero context about SDiF events. If anything, I’m personally curious about the game, the same way I was curious about Delta Force Black Hawk Down – an entertaining opportunity to learn about events (plus SDiF is a catchy name). So I’m personally not really bothered with the game. I do see the articles, and I get why discussions about it get heated. But I wanted to concentrate on a single aspect (procgen), since it was most interesting aspect of a feature presentation, so I stuck with in the question. Plus the name alone made me feel ten years younger, because of its weird development history

    P.S. “Proc-gen generation” Lol! Typical me xD

    1. Lino says:

      Plus the name alone made me feel ten years younger

      Is it possible to learn this power?

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Not from a Jedi

    2. Echo Tango says:

      The randomized maps definitely seem pretty interesting, especially given that the game is set in an urban warfare environment. For the foreign forces, I’d imagine the layouts of all the streets and interiors of buildings would seem very disorienting, and having randomized maps means that feeling would be maintained as players gain hours in the game. (Similarly for the local forces – if your home turf is half rubble, many of the alleys you know of could be un-navigable.) Seems like a very appropriate use of randomized maps to me. :)

  10. Gautsu says:

    I served during that time. I never saw action in Fallujah, but I have friends I work with every day who did. The amount of disinformation being spread about what went on in Iraq is staggering at the moment. Bad things happened every day on every side, and yes, the civilians suffered the most. But pretending like the American soldier is a monster only intent on murdering innocent people is a lie.

  11. RFS-81 says:

    I’m the same with vocals. It’s like language processing holds the Giant Lock in my brain.

    About the Pixel Dice, you joke about the smartphone connection, but one of the features is that they can talk to, e.g., Roll20.net.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      That seems like such a niche use-case, even considering the niche the dice are already in. Like, I can already get various different dice-rolling apps on my phone, or use websites like Roll20, but if I’m rolling physical dice I can just stick with the non-electronic lumps of plastic from the same store I bought the game-board from. ^^;

      1. RFS-81 says:

        Yeah, gimmicky novelty product is gimmicky. I just wanted to mention that there’s some sort of method to the madness. Like, when you’re playing online but still really really want to roll physical dice.

  12. Grimwear says:

    I hope that car turns out well for you, have had good experiences with Toyota personally. Still driving my 2005 Corolla. Only things I’ve had to replace so far (knock on wood) are the radio and a drive belt. Granted, I do spend a bit every year when I get the winter tires on to have them do a winter tune up. My sister has a…2016 Corolla? and so far it’s performing well.

  13. Steve C says:

    I watched that GDC talk and liked it. He makes some good points. Problem is that what he suggests is niche. Very niche. Yet he wants to apply it to all games. It is misguided to apply it to all but a narrow subset of games. It absolutely does belong in certain games. While absolutely does not belong in most. Most games are not trying to be simulators.

    By the same logic of that GDC talk, all reload mechanics should be like the game Receiver. Crafting mechanics should teach CAD. Minecraft should have cave-ins and mourning families for dead miners.

    I think what he had to say had a lot of value. But to who exactly? ARMA modders and sims sure. But not sims like Kerbal. To the game industry at large what he had to say had very little applicability. I could write more but The Simpsons already did it:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdHrgApNYWs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=capTpivF8n0

    1. tmtvl says:

      Are you saying not every game needs to be Dwarf Fortress?

  14. I buy a lot of my music from https://us.7digital.com/ (or in my case https://no.7digital.com/)
    They got MP3, M4A, and FLAC. And no DRM. Not all tracks are available as FLAC though. You can buy albums, or individual tracks.

    I mostly stumbled upon them looking for legal re-sellers of FLAC or lossless audio.

    Then there is Bandcamp, for example https://cyberpunk2077.bandcamp.com/

    1. tmtvl says:

      I also stumbled on 7Digital (in my case it was after Google killed Play Music), and I like their catalogue. Good variety of classics and modern stuff.

  15. Lars says:

    You can download the MP3s from amazon music and own those mp3s, but to download them you have to use that obnoxious amazon player.
    But buying from the creators directly is always the better choice.

    1. modus0 says:

      but to download them you have to use that obnoxious amazon player.

      No you don’t. It’s the main option, but underneath that is a small text link to “just download the music”, which gives you either just a download of the mp3, or a zip file for albums.

  16. GargamelLeNoir says:

    Hey Shamus are you planning on putting your new Andromeda content on the blog? We’d be happy to have it even if it’s only half an article.

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