Diecast #13: Star Wars Exclusive, Diablo III Integer Overflow

By Shamus Posted Thursday May 16, 2013

Filed under: Diecast 105 comments

Why is Chris playing Star Wars games? What unexpected turn caused me to buy Starcraft 2? What ridiculous stuff happened in SimCity this week? What mailbag letters will we answer? The answers to these questions can be found by listening to the podcast.

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00:45 What’s everyone playing?


Josh: The Witcher, Crusader Kings 2

Shamus: Monaco, Mark of the Ninja, Poker Night 2, Brutal Legend, Fez, Miasmata, Deadlight, Knife of Dunwall. Actually, just Starcraft 2.

Rutskarn has been LARPing. Don’t tell mom.

18:00 Aliens: Colonial Marines

25:20 EA gets Star Wars exclusive.

32:00 SimCity. Still! Yeah!

EA executive assures us everything is fine. Nothing is ruined. So that’s good news.

39:30 Diablo III integer overflow.

A fairly mundane bug (integer overflow) happened in a critical place (real money auction house) and borked the entire Diablo III economy.

And yes, I bungled this explanation a bit with regard to what values can be stored in a 4-byte integer, and I muddled the economic explanation. In my defense, I realized that what I THOUGHT was going to be a quick explanation quickly turned into me hogging the podcast for five minutes. It tried to hurry through it, and we wound up with an explanation that was both long AND sprinkled with mis-statements and inaccuracies.

Uh. Sorry?

49:20 MAIL TIME!


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105 thoughts on “Diecast #13: Star Wars Exclusive, Diablo III Integer Overflow

  1. Michael says:

    Awesome. Josh escapes the angry mob for another week. Can’t listen to this yet but am looking forward to the SC2 thoughts. I’m actually considering stumping up for a new PC just so I can play that! Then I remember how hard I suck at RTS & that I should stick to just watching games on YT. The internal debate, continues…

    Thanks for the Bronze League Heroes tip on Twitter the other day, btw. Ended up watching all ~20 of them – some of the most fun I’ve had with my phone! I’m sure you will have seen this one but on the offchance not you should check it out – the ‘Closest Game Ever’. It literally takes Husky a couple of minutes to work out who actually won…


  2. Dragomok says:

    I was pretty sure you had bought Stacraft II somewhere around release. I recall reading your complaints in the comments about its always-on verification and explaining the difference between this and Minecraft‘s system.

    1. Shamus says:

      I remember playing it, but I don’t remember the circumstances. Maybe it was a review copy? (Except, I don’t think I’ve ever had a review relationship with Blizzard.) Or maybe it was a review account from The Escapist, since they used to toss me their extras now and again. Or maybe I was playing on Issac’s?

      I know I didn’t buy the game until now, and whatever the earlier copy was all about, it wasn’t something I used for very long.

      1. Mephane says:

        I don’t know about the current situation, but about the time of release of the first SC2 part there was a real-time-limited demo of the game (as in “you may play this game for free as much as you like for a couple of days”). Maybe you played that?

      2. kdansky says:

        They fixed it (a bit). If you are offline, you can’t get achievements in single player, but it still works. You obviously have to be online for the multiplayer part, and since that’s the meat of the game, many didn’t care about the single player restrictions.

        1. Tizzy says:

          Except for the lack of LAN play. I believe that did piss people off.

          1. Falling says:

            Yes. I’ve pretty much quit playing SC2 simply because of the inherent latency due to Battlenet. Unit movement is SO sluggish compared to Brood War LAN latency and therefore every movement order is not fun for me. I notice immediately upon giving my first order to a worker and then it’s down hill from there. That and little to no move shot :(

  3. Spammy says:

    I thought it was pretty obvious why Aliens: Colonial Marines would be selling well despite being terrible. If every news site and every person who talks about games was going on and on and on about how horrible this game was, wouldn’t you want to try it and see for yourself?

    1. Heaven Smile says:

      There is Youtube for that.

      Maybe they do it for the Multiplayer? But even the Monolith adaptation of Alien Vs Predator 2 game has better multiplayer.

      1. Syal says:

        I figured everyone bought it because they all wanted to Lets Play it.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Indeed. What an interesting turn of events! What could they possibly be thinking? As Chris says, this move has a terrifying PR cost associated with it. What do they hope to gain? Is this just a short-term cash-in?

      EDIT: What I mean by cash-in is, this essentially means that no one will make professional let’s-play videos of Nintendo products, starting today. We can easily analyze this move by doing some simple algebra.
      Ra = Revenue from advertisements on existing professional Nintendo let’s plays being watched from now until forever.
      Rp = Revenues from new game purchases which would otherwise have been lost to the experience of watching new let’s plays from now until forever.
      Lp = Lost revenue from purchases spurred by new Nintendo let’s plays from now until forever, which will now never be created.
      La = Lost revenue from the ill will and bad PR created by this move.

      The move is worth it if Rp + Ra – Lp – La is greater than zero. La is bound to be small, since people forget quickly. However, Rp will also be small, since no new let’s plays will be made, and interest is highest in new games. That leaves us balancing Ra versus Lp. I’m guessing they did some studies and decided that Ra > Lp and just figured the “grab all the advert money” was a more elegant way to handle the situation than “take down all the videos”. In their defense, it could possibly be the right choice, from a business perspective.

      1. Thomas says:

        I think that’s the weirdest thing about this. If they blocked the videos, that would be understandable, but making money from them makes no sense, because it still drives away the sales, still creates the press and doesn’t bring in more publicity because the popular people with viewcounts make their living from this and won’t make LPs where they don’t make money. On the other hand there’ll still be little guys providing the people to chance to ruin the last boss fight etc if someone searches for it

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Ahh, good point, I hadn’t thought of that. You don’t need high quality videos to make spoilers, but you do need them to support adverts. Yeah, if I were on the board, that would be a really tough sell. But hey! It’s someone else’s company, and we get to see the result of the experiment!

        2. I wonder if someone can claim copyright on their performance?

          Even if Nintendo owns the game and can claim that any way you play it is owned by them, they don’t own the audio track of commentary from those playing it. I’ve seen loads of videos where the music has been removed due to copyright claims. Maybe LP’ers can do the same?

          1. Syal says:

            I think if you post a video on Youtube then Youtube owns it.

            1. According to their terms of service, you own the content you upload (apart from uploading stuff you don’t own in the first place). You do grant YouTube the right to distribute your vid, use it in promotions, and (drum roll for Nintendo) derivative works.*

              * Okay, maybe Nintendo and other outfits like it can afford their own YouTube ToS, but sill, I thought it was kind of ironic.

          2. kdansky says:

            That’s how it should work, not how it does. We really need a complete overhaul of the copyright system. But that’s going to be difficult when all the politicians are firmly pocketed by Hollywood.

        3. Nick Lester Bell says:

          Video game companies are getting far more aggressive about removing things from Youtube. Giantbomb as stated they don’t put trailers on their Youtube channels, because game companies immediately issue take-down notices. This despite providing the trailers to Giantbomb for their use in the first place.

          Video game companies want to own the Youtube search results. If you search for “Game X”, Game X Publisher wants every single result on that first page to be things they make money from. Most companies just order stuff taken down.

          I see this as Nintendo trying to take a “fair middle ground.” Rather than rip down the videos, they let LP people keep making them. They want to control and profit from their brand, without interfering with a LP producer’s other content (Take-down requests can and have shut down entire YouTube channels).

          1. Thomas says:

            It’s hard to justify it as a middle ground when they are pretty much the only game company doing this. I mean we’re watching Lets Plays of Bioshock, Mass Effect, Fallout, Alpha Protocol, Alan Wake, Vampires the Masquerade right now and they’re not getting taken down. Thats most major publishers bar nintendo

            1. Except Nintendo isn’t taking anything down. They’re taking the videos as their own, along with any monetezation.

              Assuming fair use is in play, this is abuse of a system that was created for movie companies when people posted their favorite clips on YouTube. Say you really wanted to share with everyone the scene from Ghostbusters where Egon and Ray accidentally use their proton packs on the maid cart in the hotel. You upload it and it becomes somewhat viral as other people remember how great that scene was and link to it.

              Under the old system, that video would vanish as soon as Columbia Pictures found out about it. Under a new policy, they can transfer ownership of the clip to Columbia to do with as they please. This preserves links to it, which keeps “this video not available” from appearing on thousands of blogs and forum posts while preserving the ownership of the media.

              In this case, however, I’d say that Nintendo is overreaching as they’re claiming an LP, which they didn’t produce, as their own. If they tried to do this with a series of Spoiler Warning (let’s pretend that Mass effect started out at Nintendo), they’d not only be saying that the assets on display, the game footage, the music, etc. theirs, but also the specific way it was played as well as the dialog spoken by the SW cast belongs to them, along with the entertainment value produced when the two are merged.

              Apart from generating a load of ill will, it’s an abuse of YouTube’s terms of service as well as fair use and parody clauses.

              1. Thomas says:

                *I didn’t mean to imply Nintendo were taking videos down. What I meant is this is only a middle ground if someone is taking videos down, which the post above me seemed to imply. But they’re not, the most extreme negative action by far is Nintendo’s, so they can#t be ‘finding the middle ground’

                The actual way to resolve this is for video publishers to take a cut of the profits but not all the profits. Many people do watch an LP to see the game in action and that’s part of the draw, so the makers should profit. But taking all the monetisation kills of the community and doesn’t recognise the value that an LPer adds

      2. Phill says:

        I suspect Nintendo view it as a case of having to shoot themselves in the foot to avoid copyright dilution. The principle that has been established in some legal cases is that if you don’t protect a trademark of copyright over a period of time, and allow public domain use of it, then you erode your right to defend the copyright in the future. So possibly if they continue to allow Lets Plays using their game footage (above and beyond ‘fair use’ excerpts for review / satire etc.), then it could harm their chances of defending copyright in the future if someone else makes a shameless Mario ripoff using Nintendo characters.

        I’m not a lawyer, and have no idea how much of a valid line of reasoning this is. I’m just suggesting it as a possible non-insane motivation for Nintendo’s actions; their lawyers want them to take actions to assert their continued interesting in maintaining their copyright position.

        1. Lame Duck says:

          Copyright and trademarks aren’t the same thing and it’s only trademarks that need to be defended in order to be retained.

          1. Cuthalion says:

            This. A thousand times this.

    2. Corpital says:

      Quite a few LPers I know of got permissions i.e. licenses to make videos about their games but Nintendo apparently targeted even some of those.

      Also, few days ago, I read about Nintendos market value being surpassed by a company making social games, so maybe Nintendo was so shocked by this that their brains collectively shut down or they decided to kill all the social for revenge.

      A minor thing I wonder about is wether it’s worse to have your unmonetarised video taken down like Sega/Shining Force or having Nintendo monetarise it.

  4. Thomas says:

    Speaking of PvP, I know Shamus once described it as someone coming along and kicking your sandcastle over

    Is that a common phrase?

    1. anaphysik says:

      That description can be found here:

      And yeah, it’s a decently common phrasing. Though I’d guess that it’s used in ~equal frequency literally and figuratively, which diminishes its idiomatic nature.

    2. ACman says:

      I love how all the games that Shamus list his son as playing are primarily cooperative games.

      Terraria – built around cooperative crafting and exploration with a totally optional PvP mode.

      Castle Crashers – A cooperative side scrolling beat-em-up.

      Realm of the Mad God – A cooperative 2D bullet hell MMORPG.

      Terraria especially seems right up Shamus’ alley gameplay wise.

      1. Shamus says:

        I know, it was a silly moment. I went over the list again when doing the post and realized I’d completely undermined the point I was trying to make.

        I think the PvP stuff he does is in Roblox and Minecraft. Sometimes he gets frustrated if his friends spawn-kill him for five minutes straight. He’s a REALLY good sport about being griefed, but he does have his limits.

        I did play Terraria a bit. It was charming in its own way, but it didn’t quite hold my attention the way Minecraft does. It leans more towards monster fighting and less towards creative building. I played back before they added the harder bosses like Wall of Flesh.

        1. ACman says:

          Well. You gave me an excuse to use the phrase “Cooperative 2D bullet-hell MMORPG”

          I love the fact that something that fits that description exists.

        2. Asimech says:

          Might be for the best not to return. From what I remember of your post about the Enchanting roulette in Minecraft you might not like that Terraria now adds a random stat to all crafter equipment. When trying that around I got the modifier “broken” to my first copper sword making it worse than a wooden sword in every single way except the swing arc.

  5. silver Harloe says:

    I may be silly, but have you considered asking Mumbles into this show as a guest from time to time? As it’s no longer long-term commitment, no longer all about making her hate games she starts out liking, she might consider it, and she still has neat things to say about games.
    Speaking of, does she even still read this blog?

    1. Humanoid says:

      Clearly Mumbles is a big SimCity fan then.

  6. Damn it Josh, do you know how hard it is to cancel an angry mob? Good thing the new Star Trek just came out, I can point them thataway.

    Saw movie at fan showing last night, thought it was awesome, but angry mobs must be pointed somewhere.

  7. Josh, you can’t say something like “I was playing Dark Forces II on the Wii” without explaining why in the name of the Original Trilogy you’d find yourself playing a ported AAA title on the Wii.

    Were you part of some kind of medical experiment? Were you being held hostage?

  8. silver Harloe says:

    Wait, if you don’t like PvP (where P = player, not protoss) what is the deal about SC2? It seems entirely about PvP…
    Side note: I said so in a tweet, but to people who are not Shamus, I suggest going to youtube and looking up “when cheese fails”:
    a) because the comments on gameplay are years older and don’t act like some ancient strategy is new
    b) because when the starcraft is boring, they talk about random stuff, rather than acting interested

    but, there’s a caveat
    c) they are big-time potty mouths, and if you don’t like cursing or blue humor in general, it’s REALLY not for you

    1. Shamus says:

      Starcraft 2 is actually massive in terms of content. The ladder is what’s POPULAR, but there’s a ton of other stuff in there. The campaign mode is gigantic and varied. Then there’s challenge scenarios, playing against AI, playing co-op against AI, playing in the arcade, watching replays, making custom maps and scenarios, spectating AI fights… I’m sure there’s some more stuff I haven’t even found yet.

      Then there’s the usual content-padding: achievements, collectibles, unlockables, etc.

      This is not to say that Starcraft 2 is my favorite game ever or anything, just that there’s a lot of stuff in there besides PvP.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        Not a big fan of PVP myself, but it’s somewhat easier if you’re going 2v2 or 3v3. That’s what I’m doing, with a “gang” of friends.
        Alone, I’d probably drop out of Bronze league, but in 3v3 we’ve almost made it to gold by now… :) Also, most players in 3v3 aren’t very serious, so the pressure’s a lot lower, and I like that a lot.

        The achievements and stuff though … I think I’d like to just turn them off. They get in the way of playing, actually.
        I _would_ like to have more tactical/strategical turorials, though. And custom games, who doesn’t like those?

        All of that said: The online-DRM almost prevented me from playing it in the first place: It took me two months and some reasonably lenient person in tech support to even get my copy activated. On the way to activation I was shown in no uncertain terms that the price of the box only buys you a licence to ask nicely whether I may please play the game.
        This was the first and will be my last game with this type of DRM. No Heart of the Swarm for me. Heartbreaking, but that’s it.

      2. Falling says:

        Have come across any of Day9’s stuff? He is usually pretty entertaining. Some is to entertain. And then there is Funday Monday where it is all about zany builds. Then if you ever get a chance to see a commentated game by Tasteless and Artosis.

        I don’t watch SC2 stuff anymore as I’ve gone back to Brood War, but those guys are pretty much the top of SC2 commentating.

    2. Taellosse says:

      There’s absolutely a lot more to Starcraft than PvP. Personally, I’ve bought every RTS (and expansion) that Blizzard has made since Warcraft 2, and I haven’t even tried to join a PvP game in any of them in 15 years, easy.

      I spend the bulk of my time with them playing the campaign mode, with the occasional PvE match, either alone or with friends (the latter mostly when I was in high school/college and LAN was still a thing you could do with them).

  9. Paul Spooner says:

    “No one wants to be left out.” and the appeal of garbage as long as everyone is talking about it.

    I’d call myself an exception to this case, and I suspect Rutskarn feels the same. If everyone is talking bad about something, I don’t feel the slightest impulse to buy a copy to see for myself. I have, many times, not purchased a game after watching sections of it on youtube. The statement “there is no such thing as bad press” would make no sense at all if the world were populated with people like me (then again, it would be a terrifying world). But, to your point, it seems that the opposite feeling is much more prevalent, which is all that counts.

    1. Fleaman says:

      Yeah, I don’t understand that impulse. I get not wanting to be left out, but if I feel it sends the wrong message if, upon hearing that something is terrible, I offer to pay for it.

      I find Youtube is generally sufficient to stay in the loop on these things. Also: Piracy.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        I make it a point not to play games I don’t think I’ll have fun with. I do have a significant tolerance for not-so-good games, but if the general consensus is that something is terrible (with little to no counter-argument) I have absolutely no incentive to even look at it.

        I have enough on my backlog as it is…

  10. Thomas says:

    Let’s Plays definitely do drive away sales sometimes. In the same way that demos reduce sales, it’s resolving people’s desire to see inside the box that advertising has created. But they also create sales and foster community.

    Also watching a Lets Play of Heavy Rain is the worst way possible to experience the game. All the good stuff was in the button presses

    1. Adam says:

      The question is: does the lost revenue from people watching LPs instead of buying and playing the game exceed the amount of money spent by people like me, who see LPs of games and decide to buy them based on what they saw?

    2. Rutskarn says:

      On the balance, I’m glad I did. While I don’t doubt parts of the experience would have been a lot more captivating, I’m frankly glad I didn’t get invested in the story. There were a lot of elements of it that frustrated me as-is and would have absolutely infuriated me if I’d cared more.

      Plus, Matt and Pat are very amusing, although I will admit Matt skeezes me out sometimes.

      1. anaphysik says:

        *Green Greens theme plays*

      2. Thomas says:

        There’s no-one who played Heavy Rain and thought the story was good, in fact I think it’s widely acknowledged to be incredibly terrible with weird tonal things and plot holes and twists that are really stupid and lots more nudity for the female person than the guy.

        Saying that, I can’t predict how you’d have taken it, even Yahtzee gave it a ? because on the one hand it’s a story game with a story written by a secondary schooler and on the other hand chopping your finger off is intense

    3. guy says:

      I recall an incident where an LPer on the SomethingAwful forum literally got a letter of thanks from the CEO of the company that made the games he LPed.

      The thing is, Let’s Plays actually show video games in a pretty positive light much of the time, because they’ll cut out the boring parts and hide the interface woes.

      1. Syal says:

        Was it MODE? I remember something in supergreatfriend’s LP mentioning the creator was directing people to it.

        (Even if that wasn’t it, I’ve been looking for a reason to bring up MODE on here.)

  11. River Birch says:

    Thing is with the more A:CM thing and Half life 2 episode 2.

    I don’t remember HL2E2 having a demo that is supposed to be respesenting the game.

    A:CM’s demo was.

    1. Irridium says:

      Half Life 2 Episode 2 was also pretty good and not completely broken in every way.

  12. Thomas says:

    I completely forgot one of the big talking points about this gameplay footage business. We were talking about it as though it was something most publishers were turning a blind eye to.

    But it’s more than that, one of the major console manufactures is making an ‘upload your videogame footage’ button. It’s not just them ignoring it, it’s an actual hardware feature.

    Wow that makes this Nintendo business even more strange (unless Sony aims to make profits off it. But if either company actually wanted to make money, then you need to partner and share the profits so it encourages people to use the features. Which, again, given the upload video button and the stream gameplay feature, is something Sony presumably want to do)

    And Twitch.tv’s business model is based around streaming game footage, if publishers start pulling out now it’s going to create waves

    1. Corpital says:

      You make an excellent point with Sony’s share button. I believe there is a vast difference between Nintendo and the rest of the industry in how they want their multiplayer. For me, the Wii is for playing with people in the same room, whereas PS3/Xbox360 felt to be aimed more at online multiplayer. Sharing footage of someone who lives hundreds of miles away versus someone who stands right beside you and saw it the moment it happened.
      I am most certainly wrong here, but…meh.

      Twitch won’t be too affected by all this, most of their viewerminutes come, for better or worse, from e-sports and no publisher with even a tiny speck of self-preservation instinct will shut that down.

  13. Nano Proksee says:

    I am the only one who did not see the New Year special? Was a live-stream thing? Got pulled from YouTube? I cannot find it.

    1. Lame Duck says:

      Live-stream thing available here.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Less than a minute into that video and Josh is ALREADY getting a failing score at reading comprehension. This should be good.

        (Thanks for the linky, I’d missed the SD stuff.)

        EDIT: Speaking of Hong-Kong-set games, I’ve no idea how the actual game turned out, but there exists some pretty fucking EXCELLENT concept art done by Tae Young Choi for the game Stranglehold:


  14. Lame Duck says:

    I think the major difference between the movie industry and the game industry Youtube copyright infringement is there’s a change in medium for videos of games. If I made a game and someone made a video LP of it or ripped the sprites and used them to make a comic I would probably be fine with it, but if they were to take elements and make another game out of it I would probably tell them to stop. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but there’s something about using a different medium that makes it clear that they’re doing something different that’s inspired by your creation rather than just stealing your work.

    Although, I’m sure once the games industry has killed off piracy and used games, LPs will be the next explanation for poor sales.

  15. anaphysik says:

    The ‘one-weeks-worth-of-episodes’ game is a concept I’ve been trying for a while to pitch for future Disclosure Alert seasons. The problem is that I’m having a hard time suggesting games that would both fit that schedule (in their entirety, being the point) whilst still actually making for a good show and commentary :/

  16. Heaven Smile says:

    59:53 xRazorFistx already covered what would happen to the Indie industry. He says that it wont make a difference:

    Here is what he said on the main industry:

    01:04:02 Eeeehm nop. Atari wasn’t the only one making games, there were other consoles but they were too busy ripping off each other by making knock off of popular games.

    They even had add-ons that allowed those consoles to PLAY games FROM the Atari directly.

    01:13:18 There is no such thing as bad publicity? Ask the people from Dante’s Inferno (courtesy of EA)

  17. Heaven Smile says:

    You “could” try a Special Spoiler Warning season where all of you agree on a “win state” on SimCity and play until it is no longer possible. Or play until you make a self sustained city and wait for X years (in game) to see if it survives without your input. If it can then you win and end of season. If not, then start over and keep trying.

    In the other hand, it will be waaaaaaaaay better to focus on something that isn’t broken as SimCity, and play Dwarf Fortress instead.

  18. Brandon says:

    This is actually the first I’ve heard of this Diablo III gold dupe debacle, and wow is that situation ever a doozy. I’m actually really interested in seeing how the whole thing plays out… We’re talking about people profiting from essentially counterfeit digital goods, which I don’t think has ever happened before.

    Digital goods and online interactions are such a gray area when it comes to the legal system, but eventually some kind of laws are going to have to be put in place to handle this sort of issue. Is this a crime? Arguably yes, but also arguably no. I’m very interested in seeing where this goes.

  19. I disagree with Chris’ belief that a lull in the industry would create universally praised AAA games, with fewer titles we could just get more mediocrity, there is such a thing as oligopoly. Where no actual competition between games could just mean literal call of duty clones with lots of bugs.
    Also, wouldn’t a lack of triple A games mean that next gen console sales really slow down since there won’t be enough software to sell the hardware? Pure speculation but worth discussion I think.

    On a side note, I really enjoyed the witcher discussion and hope that’s the next season of spoiler warning but I won’t hold my breath because everyone else seems ‘blind’ to that game. & Upload the alan wake episode, I watched the whole season like a month ago and that missing episode kind of irked me.

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Rutskarn,you are lying.Everyone knows that only piracy is losing sales,so you actually downloaded that game.

  21. Sean says:

    Yay, Diecast! :)

    So I know there’s a (very very appreciated) fan-made RSS feed for the show… but why isn’t there an “official” one? (Or if there is, and I missed a reference to it, please forgive me! I skimmed the comments, but did not find a reference. I haven’t listened to all the podcasts yet, though.)

    If not… Shamus – have you considered getting
    one of the many plugins for WordPress
    that auto-magically adds podcasting support? It might make your life easier in the future for managing the show as it gets larger. And also, it can help make a dedicated feed, which will make many listeners (like me) happier.

    1. harborpirate says:

      That fan-made RSS feed is great. I don’t listen to podcasts on my computer, because I’m not on it for an hour unless I’m working on something or playing a game, neither of which is condusive to listening to a podcast. Actually downloading mp3s or whatever manually to my phone is a huge pain, so I don’t bother.

      As I said before, RSS is like having a DVR for the internet; doubly so for podcasts. One day, it just shows up in the list, and all I have to do is click play. It makes a huge difference in user-friendliness.

      I still wish we had an official RSS that updated as soon as the episode dropped.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ethics and legality of lets plays:

    If you write a synopsis of a movie,or lyrics of a song,or film your impression of a book,no one will tell you anything about it.So filming your playthrough of a game should fall in the same category.

    But intellectual property laws are a huge mess.I mean one just has to look at what big name musicians are doing with resampling to see how borked the concept is.

    1. silver Harloe says:

      “If you write a synopsis of a movie,or lyrics of a song,or film your impression of a book,no one will tell you anything about it.So filming your playthrough of a game should fall in the same category.”

      I’m not sure your analogy works here — you made a great case for anyone and everyone being able to make a synopsis of a game or a review of a game or an impression of a game, but I’m not sure you made a case for being able to publicly display all of the game.

      I think what you’re shooting for is closer to: “if I can play a game while my friend watches over my shoulder, why can’t I let everyone watch over my shoulder?” Except, like a movie – you can have a couple friends over to watch the movie with you, but the FBI warning is clear that there’s a line when you let random strangers watch it in a “public performance.”

      I would agree that if you review a game you could use some amount of limited gameplay footage, much as when you review a movie, you can use clips, or if you review a book, you can use a few short quotes. I’m not sure that I agree that an LP counts, though – it’s way over limited clips.

      I’m pretty sure LPs exist only because game companies believe in the advertising value of them. In the comments above yours, everyone is arguing for the value of LPs – but, in a way, it’s a moot argument. All the game companies who are not Nintendo apparently agree, or LPs would have been shut down years ago.

      1. Now imagine the legal fooferrah that’s going to erupt as gamers play their favorite titles while wearing Google glasses.

      2. Peter H. Coffin says:

        I would imagine that the defining characteristic of “game” versus “movie” is whether or not the consumer can interact with it and influence the outcome. Removing the “interaction” part for a critique of the work doesn’t seem to be any less distant than an audio review of a film, or a written review of musical recording. Even if the whole work is discussed, it is still not the work itself, nor any large part of the essence of the work.

        1. Syal says:

          Removing the “interaction” part for a critique of the work doesn't seem to be any less distant than an audio review of a film,

          It would be more like playing all the audio from a film.

        2. Lame Duck says:

          Well the nature of fair use is somewhat ambiguous and only really gets defined when a court makes a decision on it. We don’t have any precedent on LPs because it’s not currently worth anyone’s time and money to get embroiled in court case over it.

          The stumbling block for LPs being considered fair use would absolutely be the amount of copyrighted content used, but it would all depend on whether someone could convince a court that using everything in the game except the interactivity does not constitute a “substantial” amount of the copyrighted work.

    2. MrPyro says:

      There is a bit of a difference between a video Lets Play and a synopsis: with a video Lets Play you are showing the original content as well as adding your own commentary, which means the whole thing probably classifies as a derivative work, which means you need to ask permission from the original creators.

      Primarily text Lets Plays (such as Rutskarn’s Cahmel stuff) is probably safe, as the occasional screenshot will probably come under fair use.

    3. Taellosse says:

      A Let’s Play is more analogous to an annotated novel, or a movie released with a fan-made commentary track, than it is to a review. And, strictly speaking, if the original work is still under copyright, neither of those things are legal for distribution without the permission of the holder of the copyright, even if distributed without compensation.

      ETA: Really? Awaiting moderation again? It must have a key word filter or something. Presumably because I used the word “compensation” which appears in so many of those irritating spam posts. I don’t suppose there’s a way to code the filter-bot so that it gives some latitude to IDs that have been previously presumed human, or something?

      1. Shamus says:

        I have no idea why it randomly sets some comments to moderation. No, there aren’t any options that I can set. It’s pretty stupid.

        There are actually two systems that handle spam, and since I can’t reproduce the problem I can’t figure out which one is the dumber of the two. Sometimes I’ll go for a few days with not strange mod problems. Sometimes it’ll do three people in a day.

        Fun fact: I’d approved your comment, then you edited it and it was pulled back into moderation. So. Awesome system all around.

        1. Taellosse says:

          Wee! Moderation-go-round!

    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

      *sigh*I really hate when I give a bunch of examples of similar things,then people take only one of those and say “That one example is not at all similar to this thing,therefore your whole analogy is wrong”.People that is not the point.At all.

      1. Taellosse says:

        If you made other comparisons elsewhere, sorry, I didn’t see them, but you compared “filming a complete playthrough of a game” to a series of things that are not similar, and I said “that is a bad analogy, here’s a better one, which highlights why this is actually legally problematic.”

        …a synopsis of a movie,or lyrics of a song,or film your impression of a book… These are all clearly and unambiguously either partial reproductions or derivative works. The original copyright is clearly not infringed. Whereas filming a playthrough of a game while commenting on it is FAR less clear. And is thus far more like the examples I cited: publishing an annotated version of someone else’s novel, or releasing a film with your own commentary track. A Let’s Play is NOT a review, it is a recording of the game with commentary. You can argue that, because someone watching a Let’s Play is not actually holding the controller, and thus not experiencing the gameplay, it is an incomplete experience, but even then, it’s still closer to, say, someone covering another person’s song without permission – it enters a legal gray area where the original copyright holder basically gets to decide if that bothers them or not, and whether to pursue legal action. It simply isn’t as clear cut as you were trying to suggest.

  23. Neko says:

    Damn, why do I only hear about these exploits after I miss the opportunity to exploit them myself?

    I’m pretty shocked that any change to the Real Money Auction House system managed to slip by without vigorous testing. If you were responsible for that kind of screw-up in the banking industry, you’d be gently persuaded to jump off the building.

    1. Just about every MMO I’ve played had some similar exploit arrive. It shows how much I paid attention to fellow players and the game’s forums that I didn’t ever hear about them until after the mass banninations took place.

    2. ACman says:

      ” If you were responsible for that kind of screw-up in the banking industry, you'd be gently persuaded to jump off a building bailed out by the government and given a position as head of the Treasury to fix the problem.”


  24. rrgg says:

    I seem to remember the Battlefronts and Empire at War as being the “really good” Star Wars games although I guess I haven’t really played many.

    Ah well, maybe we’ll eventually start getting some good “Cosmos Conflict” games or something.

  25. papersloth says:

    If you are going through with that not-quite-seasons idea, I’d recommend trying E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy. Don’t think any of you ever mentioned it, probably got overshadowed by DXHR.
    It’s an indie FPS/RPG with mechanics as insane as its story. Like, I was in awe at their disregard for any conventional game design (red barrels not exploding!)
    Not a perfect game by any stretch, but a unique title worth looking at. It isn’t very long either, about 4-5 hours per full playthrough. It’s not voiced though.

    1. Every Steam sale that thing rears its low-rated head and I almost think it’d be worth a few bucks, but I’ve never gone for it.

      1. papersloth says:

        Eh, it depends on what you like in games. Since it had large open levels, decent guns, interesting character progression and cryptic ending(s), I could close my eyes at awful direction, enemy placement/respawn, kindergarden dialogues, glitches etc. It’s also very anti-hand-holding, and the story is kind of nonsensical on purpose. Like, I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone.

      2. Keeshhound says:

        It’s kind of like doing acid while you play Deus Ex with a Warhammer 40k audiobook playing.

  26. Kamica says:

    LARPING, WOOHOOOW! I am going to one next week, go Rutskarn! Shame on the rest of you for not appreciating it enough >.>, You guys should try it, everyone should try it atleast ones.

  27. Zaxares says:

    Having finished Heart of the Swarm a week ago, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it, Shamus. :)

  28. @17:50 Don’t worry Chris, I understood that reference.

    @30:50 Han Solo w/ bullet time! He’ll ALWAYS SHOOT FIRST!

  29. Deadyawn says:

    It’s good to hear Josh fixed up those Alan Wake episodes. I was pretty sore about them not being there when I was rewatching that series a while back.

  30. wererogue says:

    Rutskarn, you broke me. The LARP skit was utter genius and had my covering my face with my hands to chuckle and gasp for breath.

    Thank you.

  31. prof_goldfish says:

    Crusader Kings II multiplayer hangout? That would be really cool I think. I love that game and watching Josh’s chaotic stupid would be neat :)

  32. Paul Spooner says:

    The “large breakfasts” hobbit mini-game series sounds like a lot of fun. It would be an interesting way to present Frodo’s discomfort. Every morning you eat as much food as you can, and then do it again an hour later. At first you are completely stuffed every morning at both meals. Then, as you leave the shire the breakfasts get bleak. Pretty soon you’re down to just one breakfast instead of two. By the time you’re trudging across the plains of Mordor the minigame just pops up and says “you’re out of food” and Frodo makes a sad face. You could actively remember all those huge breakfasts you ate long ago in the shire, and feel for Frodo’s plight.

    The “imperial march” playing when Vader walks: so great! Since you can’t run with him, when you press the run key, the music should just speed up. Does the song start over when you stop, or resume where it left off?
    Oh oh! Play the base “Dun dun duduladun dudaladundala” when he walks, and when he gets out his lightaber bring in the strings. Then the horns cut in when he starts swinging, and it goes to the bridge when things explode. And, to top it off, it all plays backwards when you walk backwards. Such a missed opportunity.

    “Uh. Sorry?” for the poor explaination? No Shamus, the subtext of glee at being able to finally talk about computational theory in the podcast more than makes up for it. Come on guys, let Shamus off his leash more often! The excitement is palpable.

  33. jarppi says:

    About the future of the AAA games:
    I agree with Chris that we propably are going to see less games per year of these massive triple A productions and that they most likely are going to be more “safe”. But I also think we are going to see games that have much lower production values yet they still can compete against these big budget ones. Right now there aren’t many, Metro 2033 series being propably the only one, but the future is open. Given enough time maybe some small studios can fill the gap between the triple A and indie market. Games may not be as polished as their competitors with higher production values but since they need less sells to make profit they could get it from the niche markets.

  34. Zukhramm says:

    Things changing during development is an entirely different thing from intentionally making a fake trailer.

    I was actually waiting for that hanging scene in Bioshock Infinite. I’m not angry it’s not there, but it’s confusing that they’d market the game with something that’s not in it.

  35. impassiveimperfect says:


    “I have watched the Two Breast Friends play Heavy Rain.”

    Freud much, Rutskarn? :P

    (Could be mishearing that.)

  36. Velkrin says:

    Dungeons & Dragons online actually has economy every year or so. Examples:

    Dousing Wands (wands of Knock) were sellable to traders. That wouldn’t be a big thing if they were not paid for by special event items, of which you end up with thousands of extras.

    The challenges (special time based dungeons) will give you what amounts to a mystery box if you kill specific red-named (boss) monsters during the time you’re in there. The boxes can drop both items and money. They would normally disappear once opened, but if they were placed in your character bank you could open them in there and have them not disappear. The net result of this was that the in-game auction house for at least one server was entirely bought out, which is obviously unheard of in an MMO.

    The challenges also drop ingredients used to craft specific challenge items. A bug caused the ingredients to be sellable, but only in amounts of 50 or less. If you know what you’re doing you can easily get 300+ ingredients in a five minute run, netting you about 200,000 platinum per run (as opposed to around 16K for a normal dungeon).

    Mind you Turbine never does a roll-back, they just do an emergency hotfix and let the economy sort itself out after a few months.

  37. arthurbu says:

    I think my favourite story for infinite money bugs is with Kingdom of Loathing where an infinite meat (in-game currency) bug was discovered and had similar effects on its economy. Instead of a rollback they made it part of the lore and had some strange penguin mafia fundraising event in-game to get rid of the bug meat. Not any great lessons to learn from it for Blizzard here … but it was funny?


    1. Hieronymus says:

      Disco Bandits, represent!

    2. Sheer_Falacy says:

      I’m still proud of my 3 Mr. Exploiters. Good times.

      Oh, and the half a cannon I built.

  38. Coblen says:

    Oh god I almost cried when Shamus was talking about his son asking to play video games with him.

    I’m filled with envy. I used to have pretend conversations with my father, in which he asked to play with me.

    You sound like a good father Shamus.

    1. Shamus says:

      My biological father AND my step father were both computer illiterate. Playing with my son is my effort to give him what I didn’t get.

      You can’t control what kind of father you get, but you do control what kind of father you are. I mess up with the best of them, but thanks for the encouragement. :)

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Yeah, my Dad never played computer games with us either, even though he bought us a few. Of course, it makes it easier that you enjoy computer games. My three year old ocassionally says “Daddy, please play Minecraft so I can be happy.” and what can you say to that? But I actually like Minecraft, and by your own admission you’re not too bad at StarCraft II either. I feel like neither of us is really making a sacrifice for our children in this respect, at least not to the same degree that our parents would have had to in order to play videogames with us.

        I suppose the challenge is to remain flexible enough to help our children gain skill in what they can excel at, even if we don’t see the value in the activity itself at the time. My son is probably going to want to be a baseball player or a dance instructor or something. Now that would be a sacrifice!

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