Diecast #145: Black Desert, Overload, The Division

By Shamus Posted Monday Mar 14, 2016

Filed under: Diecast 82 comments

Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster.
Episode edited by Issac.

This week we spend probably too much time talking about the recently-released Korean MMO Black Desert. It’s strange and wonderful and goofy and annoying. You’ve been warned.

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Lord of the Rings Online #3: Not a Sheeple Person

By Shamus Posted Sunday Mar 13, 2016

Filed under: Shamus Plays 20 comments

If you remember from last time, I’m here in the town of Archet as the result of a series of very bad decisions, most of them by other people. Last night I needed to deliver a letter. By the end of the evening I was going to be killed by the Nazgul. As of today I’m about to watch the destruction of an entire city.

The town is surrounded by brigands who are waiting for nightfall before sweeping in here and giving the entire population of the city an all-expenses-paid trip to the afterlife.

One of the town guards is actually working with the brigands, and it’s my job to go and tattle on him to the captain. I don’t know why Amdir wants me to do this. I have no proof. I’m just repeating the rumor.

Put that thing away! Only players are allowed to wave weapons around irresponsibly.
Put that thing away! Only players are allowed to wave weapons around irresponsibly.

Captain Brackenbrook is not glad to see me. Apparently he’s not willing to imprison and execute one of his own men based on the gossip from a random foreigner.

I go back to Amdir and tell him his idiotic plan didn’t work. He gives me a nice pair of gloves. I don’t know why he gives me gloves. Maybe he just hands out free stuff to people who insult him. Maybe he’d give me a fancy taffeta ball gown if I told him his mother was a whore.

(I’m sure she was a nice lady.)

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The Altered Scrolls, Epilogue: Bethesda’s Freedom

By Rutskarn Posted Saturday Mar 12, 2016

Filed under: Elder Scrolls 44 comments

What is the point of an Elder Scrolls game?

Why did a team of game developers who set out to make a schlocky, plotless combat sim follow a trail of feature-creep-as-inspiration until the result didn’t just clash with their design document–it clashed with the packaging they’d already ordered? What did they suspect that made them take that kind of risk?

Why did Skyrim become not just game of the year, but game of about five straight years in a row?

Why should it come to pass that Nexus has ten mods for a hugely successful open-world game where you play freaking Batman–and forty thousand for a game where you yell at dragons? (Sure, it has a robust toolset–but Fallout 4 doesn’t as of this writing and it’s still got more mods than any non-TES or Fallout game on the market. Having a toolset is no guarantee you’ll get mods, and having no toolset is evidently no guarantee you won’t.)

How does Bethesda do it?

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Mass Effect Retrospective 38: Cerberus Unlimited

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 10, 2016

Filed under: Mass Effect 208 comments

There’s a distress call from Grissom Academy, an Alliance military school for gifted young Biotics. Shepard goes to help and finds out Cerberus is attacking the school.

Grissom Academy

What is going on with the lighting on the central dome? That seam down the middle makes no sense.
What is going on with the lighting on the central dome? That seam down the middle makes no sense.

On my first playthrough of this game, I’d lost my Mass Effect 2 saves in a computer migration and so I had to use the default world state, in which Jack is dead. If we make the assumption that anyone using the default character is new to the seriesWhich is not remotely a guarantee, but it’s probably a better policy than just assuming all players are returning ones., then this actually makes sense. Jack is a tricky character and it would be awkward to try to explain who she was in the second game just so the player could appreciate her transformation here in Mass Effect 3.

But this series is based on a full play-through of all three games, and so I got to see the different ways BioWare handled the fact that most of your Mass Effect 2 crew might be dead. They put a lot of work into it, and it really does make for a better world if you take the time to import the saves.

Here at Grissom Academy, Jack has somehow joined the teaching staff. She’s trying to clean up her potty mouth and has ditched the nihilism and random violence in favor of being a mentor to young adults.

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Good Robot #43: Un-UnSolved Mysteries

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Mar 8, 2016

Filed under: Good Robot 108 comments

So now we’re to the part of the project where we have to stop adding Fun New Things and fix the dumb crap and insane bugs we accidentally created earlier. This is my least favorite part of the project. Or any project. The equivalent for an author is once they’re done writing a book and they have to go back and proofread. Bo-ring!

Here are some of the baffling conundrums we’ve unraveled over the last few weeks.

Bug #1: Mysterious Level Exit

This is what the level exit doors look like.
This is what the level exit doors look like.


You’re flying around the level, minding your own business murdering robots, when suddenly the Good Robot acts like it just went through a level-exit doorway. The robot flies to the edge of the room, the screen fades out, and you’re suddenly on the next level, despite the fact that you weren’t anywhere near a doorway. You couldn’t even SEE a doorway.

Why this problem SUCKED:

This bug was a phantom. It was the Loch Ness Monster. It was Bigfoot. Nobody could replicate it, nobody could predict it. It would happen once in a hundred game sessions, which meant it never happened when you were looking for it. It would pop up when you were in the middle of something else, and it was so abrupt that by the time you realized it was happening you’d already been pulled through to the next level and couldn’t remember anything specific about the game state pre-transition. What room was I in? What was going on? Was there a door in the same room? Were any robots near it? Did I stupidly blunder through some gap in the level geometry without noticing?

What happened:

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Good Robot #43: Un-UnSolved Mysteries”