Diecast #42: Skyrim, Elder Scrolls Online, Alien Isolation

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jan 15, 2014

Filed under: Diecast 84 comments

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Hosts: Rutskarn, Josh, Chris, and Shamus.

Show notes:

01:00 Shamus got over his Skyrim problem and made screensaver.

For the record, the mods I was using are Realistic Needs & Diseases, Frostfall, and Random Alternate Start, along with about 40 others.

I already talked about the screensaver earlier this week.

13:00 The Elder Scrolls Online

Here is the Nerdrage video on Elder Scrolls.

51:30 Chris is writing things and talking about Alien Isolation.

From Wikipedia:

[Alien Isolation] is set in 2137, 15 years after the events of Alien and 42 years before the events of Aliens. It focuses on Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda who, while in search for her mother, goes to a space station: Sevastopol, unaware that the Xenomorphs have already infested the place.


So you’re playing as Ripley’s daughter. Who is an adult. Not only does this muck with establish canon, but it drags in a character that was better left where she was: Having lived a perfectly mundane and unremarkable life on Earth.

A much better idea? Let us play as Newt. You wouldn’t have to screw with any existing lore, and the mechanics are all right there in the movie: Newt survives by hiding in tight spots and using her wits. She can crawl through the duct work and watch the Aliens tear through the colonists. We’ve got a huge installation to work with and lots of blank space on the timeline. It would be a very cat-and-mouse type stealth, where the tension comes from the times when you’re obliged to leave the safety of the vents and venture into the open to accomplish something.

I’m not saying it can’t be a great game, but the whole “Ripley’s daughter” thing smacks of ham-handed fanfiction.

Having said that: This is the first Alien game in ages that sounds promising. Survival stealth? Oh yeah. I’m on board with that.


From The Archives:

84 thoughts on “Diecast #42: Skyrim, Elder Scrolls Online, Alien Isolation

  1. allfreight says:

    FYI, for some reason this post does not appear in the Diecast category (i.e. on the page http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?cat=287).

    Normally I would soften the minor page formatting criticism with a positive comment on the content but since I didn’t listen to it yet I can only say that, as a frequentist, I can’t use prior knowledge of previous Diecast episodes to extrapolate such a comment. Hence, I can only apologise for my rudeness.

    1. allfreight says:

      Delete does not exit. Ignore the above.

  2. Henson says:

    Just as Shamus broke his Skyrim addiction this week, I begun mine. For the first time. And rather than playing through vanilla for my first playthrough (my typical approach), I’m also playing with about 35 mods. So, what I’ve learned…

    -SkyUI is so, so necessary.

    -Not having Dawnguard really sucks for mods. I can’t use the ReProccer for SkyRe, I can’t install Deadly Dragons, I get CTDs if I have one erroneous Dawnguard mod installed…

    -I have no idea how to tell if my lighting tweaks are working or not. It looks like what I’ve seen on YouTube, but nothing seems to change when I disable them.

    -Realistic Needs make me tired really, really fast. This is okay in combat and exploration, but it’s just dumb when I get just as tired having a conversation in town as I do hacking a pack of wolves to death.

    -I think I’m grasping which NPCs come from the Interesting NPCs mod and which come from the vanilla game (I think). It’s neat to see the different approaches to dialogue, both in player dialogue options and in what kinds of things the NPCs talk about.

    -Using Lydia as a pack mule feels a bit like cheating. But I do it anyway.

    -Why the hell isn’t there a mod for me to take notes IN THE QUEST JOURNAL?! I can make my own journal, and I can take notes on the map, but no notes in the place where I need it most! Make this happen, programmers!

    1. Lydia is hilarious when I gave her a necromancer staff to carry and she started USING it, almost CONSTANTLY.

      By the by, is it me, or is the DLC on Skyrim taking a LOT longer to come down in price than it did for other Bethesda games?

      1. Ringwraith says:

        Bethesda have suddenly adopted a policy of not discounting DLC to 75% on Steam, and only doing it to 50%, while making the Ultimate/Goatee edition 66% off.
        This leads to the insanity of the game + DLC pack is cheaper than just all the DLC together.
        As they did this with Dishonored as well, and it’s really frustrating as I want the DLC, but not when it’s cheaper to rebuy the game again. I used to do this with retail copies because of the oddities of how retail pricing works (or just hitching on late, I bought the Ultimate edition of Dragon Age: Origins for a fiver recently), but when digitally? It’s just nuts. Even discounting the DLC to 66% would be fine…

        1. I wouldn’t mind so much if I could, say, buy the GOTY edition with all the add-ons, and then gift the core game (which I already have) to someone else.

          1. Ringwraith says:

            This however, would make sense.

      2. Eruanno says:

        While this doesn’t help anyone right now, Skyrim (and to some extend, the DLC) has been discounted by 75% in nearly every Steam sale that has happened for the past year, so… it’s not that difficult to get it for cheap.

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      “…it's just dumb when I get just as tired having a conversation in town as I do hacking a pack of wolves to death.”
      For me, this is what turned me off of Don’t Starve as well. Standing still by the fire should absolutely not drain hunger as fast as chopping down a tree. I’ve done both in real life, and the difference is shocking. The incongruity ultimately made the game un-enjoyable for me.

  3. A typical mistake many designers do is to try and re-create the game(s) they recall from their younger years, or to create the idea they had a decade ago.

    Very few things ages well, same goes for ideas.
    One major worry is that the publishers may end up blaming the players, so priced might go up, DRMs get worse, stuff get ads in them (even if you already paid), but they forget that there is only a finite amount of money available, game addicts already ignore proper diet to pay for their gaming habits.

    What is odd is that these big budget game projects seem to lack the money to set just one guy to research the viability of a games direction. The high en d of gaming will collapse, I just hope the middle do not fall with it.

  4. Bryan says:

    Wait, no SimCity news? (That they finally added an offline mode? E.g. http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/01/simcity-belatedly-getting-a-dedicated-offline-mode/ although I’m sure it was elsewhere as well…)

    1. Erik says:

      Yeah, but that news wasnt available till this week, i think.

      If memory serves, they generally record the podcast on sunday.

      1. Bryan says:

        Oh. Good call. Duh, yeah, that was Monday. :-)

  5. Mormegil says:

    Using Newt would rule out any combat sequences though – probably a tough sell at that point.

  6. Ithilanor says:

    Chris’s comment about how other games have taken over the functions MMOs used to provide really hit the nail on the head, I thought. That crystallizes pretty much all the problems I’ve seen with modern MMOs that I’ve never been able to articulate.

  7. Twisted_Ellipses says:

    I can see where the Alien: Isolation people are coming from. They want to invoke the spirit of Alien & not Aliens , so they don’t want to touch anything associated with the latter. Anyway, the blank time-frame for using Newt is small compared with Amanda, who is basically just a name (technically two names, since she married) & a photo in a deleted scene. Any game involving Newt would have to be prequel to Aliens or simular to Aliens Newts Tale . I would prefer a wholly new character that we could get to know. The biggest problem for me with Alien: Isolation is that we know Amanda will be fine, unless the Weyland-Yutani representative lied to Ripley and that would be really out of character…

    1. Zukhramm says:

      I’m sure it’s possible to make a good game where you play as Newt but Alien: Isolation would be impossible to do with Newt because Newt = multiple aliens.

  8. I think the reason companies keep pushing MMOs is that the companies involved seem to think that the way to make ridiculous amounts of dosh is to make your players pay a monthly fee for a long, long time, preferably forever. Unless they start making games with a purchasing model like Photoshop currently does (and I really dislike that model), that’s not going to happen.

    Now, where I COULD see them splitting the difference and making money is if they kept making first-person RPGs and just released quarterly DLC content. They’ve got the tools, the voice actors, and, frankly, the time to put out decently-sized plot-driven quests/stories that can slot into the existing game. Now, what this would also entail is upping the level caps and making the new DLC content either not activate until you reach level X or placing it “far” from the central game area. I loves me some Fallout/Skyrim, but every DLC winds up giving you game-breaking XP, weapons, or both.

    To be fair on that last point, these games are still trying to be a lot like an immersive tabletop RPG, and if you just take them like print modules, they’re not all that broken, since a regular DM wouldn’t let players hoover up EVERY piece of junk and search EVERY cabinet and so on so it’d be unlikely the player(s) would get the god-weapons every time.

    But anyway, I’d still happily be buying DLC for, say, New Vegas, Skyrim, or even Fallout 3, just to have something new to explore and mess around in,were they still pumping it out. Heck, imagine if they’d release DLC that allowed you a new character origin, new endings to the main questlines, introduced new NPCs and so on.

    1. Torsten says:

      That is pretty close to what The Secret World does. The core game has a pay-once-play-forever model, but they bring new mission packs every now and then with new areas and mechanics. They also have an item store where you can buy clothes and other customising items that actually do not change the character stats, so that it is not pay-for-win but pay-for-looks.

  9. Hey! Chris knows what “more DOTs” means now! :)

    1. Thomas says:

      Oh now I get it! I wasn’t thinking in initials until you wrote it out. I had some very confused thoughts about dots (sparkles?) based classes

  10. Oh, and one thought I hope Bethesda keeps in mind: When the Elder Scrolls MMO finally tanks, those art and model assets could come in handy if they wanted to knock a few bucks off the cost of producing the next single-player sequel game.

    1. Ciennas says:

      Actually, if built right, there could be room for a Little Teensy Weensy bit of online gameplay for Even the single player Elder Scrolls.

      Only a little, though.

      Okay, so Skyrim has proven that they can easily make an eterna-game shape. Dungeons reset, and traps respawn, and the lore even supports it.

      So… Have your characters start out with a demi randomized beginning…. and have it so that other Players can ‘drop in’ at a rally point, and either side saddle with you through the game world, or ‘hire them out’ for a percentage of the goods for the duration of a dungeon or two. Something like the underground city in Skyrim. You need a buddy to get through there with functioning kneecaps, anyway.

      No? Bad plan? I’d see it working. Especially if they added an ‘official’ mod channel, so that the most popularly upvoted mods could get included in the list of available DLC on the consoles. Everyone wins!

      But that second thing is not related to the first- it just seems worth mentioning.

    2. Torsten says:

      The thing is, has there been a single game serie that got a sequel after it got made to an MMO? All the money and assets Blizzard has made from WoW has not brought us Warcraft 4. Changes of getting another KOTOR are non-existent. And if Blizzard and EA burn their resources on MMO, how could Bethesda do any different?

      1. Thomas says:

        Bethesda are probably different by dint of having nothing to fall back on. EA have the Sims and their sports franchises, Activision-Blizzard has CoD (and never needed money after WoW).

        Whereas TEO isn’t going to make WoW money, and if Bethesda don’t make more Elder Scrolls games they’ve got barely anything else they could make instead

      2. Well, Squeenix has put out 2 separate Final Fantasy MMOs to moderate success and that hasn’t stopped FF from trucking along. Slowly, with plenty of problems, and kinda different since all/most FF installments are distinct worlds, sure, but they’re there.

        1. Phantos says:

          In much the same sense that Bilbo was “moderately successful” in releasing Smaug onto Laketown.

      3. aldowyn says:

        I’d point out that ESO is different for two big reasons.

        1: It’s in a different time period and thus doesn’t (really) mess with the lore.

        2: It’s not being made by bethesda, but zenimax online studios.

        Also I’m not sure if Warcraft or the KotOR games ever got the ridiculous amount of penetration and sales Skyrim has. But that might just be because it’s a different industry nowadays.

  11. Mintskittle says:

    In the Aliens game, you get various tools like a plasma torch or a high powered rivet driver which work devastatingly well in killing aliens, despite not being guns.

    1. ET says:

      In the trailer for the Alien: Isolation, you get a cutting torch to get through some kind of hatch.
      Hopefully it’s not usable for combat, and only to interact with the environment.
      Ooh, maybe setting fuel on fire to scare the creature away!

      1. Klay F. says:

        Its amazing how freaking nobody remembers the makeshift flamethrower. Its absolutely perfect for this kind of game. Keep the Alien at a manageable distance (as long as you know where it is), but extremely limited fuel. The mechanic practically develops itself. Also, I don’t get all the bitching over the canon. The only information we have about Amanda comes from an almost pathological liar. So whats the problem?

  12. Epopisces says:

    My favorite MMO concept that was not (or rather, that didn’t get proper treatment and died) was AutoAssault. It was branded as Twisted Metal in a massive multiplayer setting, with vehicle progression–which was awesome. I thought this was an idea that had legs (or wheels).

    Sadly, it was rushed through production, and poorly executed in any case. I do hope that one day a proper treatment of the concept is done. . .

    1. I’m sorry, all I saw was “that game that was published for a while by the same company that canceled City of Heroes.” :)

      That said, I’d love a game based on Car Wars. Maybe the new Mad Max game will fill that void, but I’ve only seen cinematic trailers for it thus far.

  13. Duneyrr says:

    Under NDA, the only thing I am allowed to say about the ESO beta is that I am in the ESO beta.

    I have only played it for a total of 2 hours.

    I think enough can be said from that.

    1. Phill says:

      Should we infer from that either a) that you’ve only been in the ESO beta for a short time, or b) it is really dull and/or unplayable

      1. Corpital says:

        Nonono, Duneyrr was just so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of quality entertainment, he had to stop playing. You know, to calm down.

        At least that was a reason to go for the subscription model, in an interview shortly after announcement. Yes, we know about all the MMOs that went F2P, but we will have a lot of highest quality content with regular updates of even more high quality content, that people will happily pay for it.

        Errr….yes. Yes, I’m sure, they will.

        1. Eruanno says:

          Oooorr…. I could pay the same money I could use for ESO for something like PS+ and get a whole bunch of games to play every month… :3

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Under NDA, the only thing I am allowed to say about the ESO beta is that I am in the ESO beta.

      I have only played it for a total of 2 hours.”

      Um,have you just violated the NDA,or are you also allowed to say how long youve been playing it?

      1. Warrax says:

        I’m also in the beta, and it’s my understanding that we can’t review the game in it’s beta state, but we can acknowledge that it exists and we’ve seen it.

        So I guess the question is, does “I’ve only played 2 hours” count as a review?

        For the record, I’ve played quite a bit longer than 2 hours. It is TES, but it is also an MMO. That’s not meant to be a review, but you can make of it what you will.

  14. Thomas says:

    I think Rutskarn sums up the whole Elder Scrolls MMO situation around 36 minutes. People want an Elder Scrolls MMO because they wanted an Elder Scrolls game where all the people around them really are people and the world is more living than even they imagine that.

    The thing is, MMOs don’t do that well. 20 warriors surrounding a quest giver calling each other homophobic slurs doesn’t make the world feel better. And if anything everything has to be less interactive because the NPCs have to be available to everyone.

    You aren’t going to have a real Elder Scrolls MMO until someone can design a gameplay language which really does encourage people to act as merchants and traders and thieves and townspeople, in a way that fits in with the world.

    The closest we can come to it is a Minecraft server type of affair where the NPCs can die and it has a real economy, but there’s only a small amount of fairly like-minded people so nothing gets too messed up. And they need to be able to adapt the world in a way that makes it feel like their own thing, so that they can be proud of it. Chris’ GTA Online idea would come a lot closer to that

    1. Thomas says:

      You can tell I wrote this before Christ specifically mentioned Minecraft, oops =D

      1. Phill says:

        Please don’t fix that typo ;)

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Of course,the beard!Its so obvious now.

    2. Benjamin Hilton says:

      Again the main issue here is that people playing the game look around the world they are in and say:

      “I want this as an mmo”, not “I want an mmo set in this world”.

      There is a huge difference there. Now I think allot of the people who said that knew it was kind of a technological impossibility, and they were just kind of musing.

      But the developers just thought that it was the lore and the universe that people wanted, not realizing that it was the mechanics that made the game fun, and so we end up with this game and nobody happy.

      1. aldowyn says:

        anyone that *seriously* plays elder scrolls for the lore is a litttle bit crazy. These are the devs that decided that the proper way to handle multiple endings in a sequel was to say ‘screw it they all happened’.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,does anyone else find it a bit funny for Shamoose to criticize someone for picking a character from a known work to make fan fiction around them,without knowing anything about the actual quality of said fanfic?

  16. Phantos says:

    Ten seconds ago, I lamented not having anything to listen to while I draw.

    This will come in handy.

  17. Zukhramm says:

    No one eats hamburgers anymore because if they are into bread they can eat bread and if they want meat they can eat meat. While there are plenty of games giving me part of what I want from an MMO (DayZ, Minecraft, Animal Crossing, Journey) none actually gives me a complete MMO.

    I was never into MMOs to do quests or get items (using an MMO to play shielded from the world with 4 other people seems like wasting everything unique about the genre) but for having a massive world, with other people in it. I don’t think that WoW revealed “what people really want” from MMORPGs, if it did, then SWTOR and Elder Scrolls Online would do much better. The people who want what WoW offers already play WoW. SWTOR’s failure seems to clearly say that people do not want more of that. Assuming do not want MMOs that focus on providing a world seems strange to me since no one seems to actually be trying to make a game like that.

    1. Rutskarn says:

      That wasn’t to say *nobody* plays or wants MMOs anymore, so much as…well, to use your analogy:

      Someone creates hamburgers. For a while hamburgers reach novelty status. They’re very popular and lots of chains pop up, but in this theoretical universe, hamburgers ultimately would level out into, “Well-liked niche item that will always have its fans, but maybe not a blockbuster.”

      Then WoW Burger opens up down the street and announces its new product, the WoW Special: a cheeseburger with melted American cheese, a half-pound beef patty, fresh lettuce and tomato, and a dollop of their newly-developed special sauce.

      The WoW Burger sells like fucking CRAZY. Everyone wants one. Everyone wants TWO. WoW Burger soon has enough to open entire strip malls full of nothing but their restaurant over and over. And so a dozen other companies pop up trying to copy WoW Burger and its special sauce.

      So they’re spending massive amounts of money, flooding the market and putting burger joints on every street corner, all pushing hamburgers copied directly from WoW’s design. And most are failing, because WoW burgers still have special sauce and everyone’s used to going there.

      Now imagine someone figures out that the special sauce is heroin.

      Burgers would have always sold SOME products, and they always WILL sell some products, but WoW burgers have been selling like crazy because they’ve got a highly addictive substance in them. So instead of spending millions establishing franchises to try to compete at hawking heroin via the proxy of hamburgers, plenty of savvy businessmen just sell the “special sauce” directly through the internet at much lower overhead costs.

      Now we’ve got WoW Burger’s profits steadily dropping and competing burger joints absolutely shriveling up and dying. There’s only so many people still buying burgers: people who have grown to associate the high with the hamburger, people who are unaware of the alternatives, and people who just like the goddamn hamburgers and would have kept eating hamburgers even if none of this nonsense had ever happened.

      And that, by roundabout drug-hamburger analogy, is the state of MMOs. A lot of confusion about appeal and a lot of failed attempts to copy a successful, but ultimately OVERsuccessful, business model. Subscriptions to WoW aren’t dropping because the game is getting worse, or else competitors would be thriving; they’re dropping because the rush that kept a sizable quantity of them coming back can be found cheaper elsewhere. WoW will never COMPLETELY lose its audience, and in fact I imagine it will still have players for decades–but its days of being the main pusher are limited.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        To continue the metaphor on a more personal level:
        The first MMO I played was DAoC (which Shamus mentioned above was his first MMO as well). It had software architecture problems, art direction problems, and limited content, but it worked. I enjoyed it a good deal, but was turned off by the random elements and the grind intrinsic in the business model. My friends and I were all really excited about the new Blizzard game though, World of Warcraft.

        For a bit more context, Warcraft II and Warcraft III were central in my video-game experience as I grew up. My brothers and friends would run around and play make-believe in the back yard, and Warcraft II was the only thing that could tear us away from those imaginary worlds. We held Blizzard Entertainment in the highest regard. ID was good, but Blizzard was the Gold Standard.

        So when we heard that Blizzard, the King of Videogames, was making an MMORPG, it was literally the biggest thing that could possibly happen. We imagined a virtual world better than DAoC in every way. A vibrant place full of wonder, opportunity, and challenge. A place where we could play make-believe again, together.

        And that’s what we got. But we were young and foolish.

        Because what we failed to see was that Blizzard were not gods among men, but simply excellent craftsmen and excellent businessmen working together. WOW was good in every way, and it was more addictive than DAoC, with more grind than ever.

        A month after it launched I discovered that I was getting up at three in the morning to play while the lag on the campus internet connection was at its minimum. I was addicted, and I knew it, and for the first time I could see it for what it was. I saw the game with the clarity of a drowning man. So it was, with a heavy heart, that when the time came to renew my subscription, I let it pass.

        I went on to graduate from college with good grades, got a job, and moved on with my life, while many of my friends were pulled further and further into WOW addiction. So, I have to agree with your description above. WOW is intentionally highly addictive. I got out quickly, but many, many others have taken years to escape.

        I don’t think Blizzard is evil for selling such an addictive product. And for many people, that’s all they want out of life, to have a good time and chat with their friends and get some cool looking virtual pants. But at the same time, WOW broke my faith in one of my childhood heroes.

        But I’m still looking for that shared “make believe” world to play in with my friends. The vision remains, and as you say, there are many others who want the burgers without the drugs.

      2. Zukhramm says:

        What I’m saying it when WoW Burger sales are going down and all the WoW Burger competitors are dying we can not use that do conclude that people don’t want burgers, only that people don’t want WoW Burgers and its knockoffs. We can’t use the WoW Burger’s success to assume that the only burgers people want are WoW Burgers, and then use the decline of WoW Burgers to assume people do not want burgers at all.

        MMORPG just means RPG with loads of people in the same world. There’s nothign in it that says it has to be anything like WoW. Throwing away a whole genre just because one type of game within it is unable to support three 100 million dollar monthly subscription games simultaneously is completely insane.

        We’re chasing one tiny subset or MMOs because one single game of that type became super successful one time. When this turns out not to work, shouldn’t we try a couple of different types of MMORPGs before dismissing the genre forever?

        1. aldowyn says:

          Eh. They’re getting there, slowly. Although they still seem married to hotbars. Even guild wars 2 and a freaking ELDER SCROLLS MMO aren’t immune.

          That said, there are more and more games that might quality as MMOs that AREN’T RPGs. Quite a few MMOFPS, for example.

  18. Corpital says:

    I wonder who would be played by whom in the movie.
    Teddy Roosevelt for Josh and Rutskarn could be played by the Riddler (played by Nicholas Cage).
    Any suggestions for Chris, the monkey and Shamoose?

    Also, I will greatly miss Shamus and Rutskarn. But I take comfort in the knowledge Rustkarn probably wanted to go that way. Sad smiley.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Chris would be played by Jack Black and Shamoose would be played by Bill Murray.

  19. Jamey says:

    Shamus, it’s been a while, but IIRC, Ripley left earth when her daughter was young, and returned after a 57 year hypersleep after her daughter had passed away, looking fairly old in the picture. So while some random space station being already infested certainly *stretches* things quite a bit in terms of canon in terms of the aliens themselves, I think they got the daughter part about right.

    She would be (her age when Ripley left) + (the Nostromo’s flight time until the movie starts) + 15 years old, which seems perfectly reasonable she’d be an adult.

  20. jarppi says:

    A random question that doesn’t relate to topic in any way:

    Do you have any plans for the next Spoiler Warning season?

      1. Joshua490 says:

        During Aunty Paladin, Rutskarn said they had already picked out the game they were going to play, but declined to say what game it was.

        1. Woodthorn says:

          My money’s on Kirby’s Epic Yarn.

        2. aldowyn says:

          I’m betting either Skyrim or Remember me. Probably Skyrim. I don’t think it’s a coincidence everyone is playing it again.

          But then again, I could be totally wrong.

  21. Alex says:

    I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but I just want to respond to this:

    “A much better idea? Let us play as Newt.”

    Hell. No. I would not touch this game if it was about Newt. I do not want to play as some brat, I want to play as a strong, competent woman, even if that is shown by her outthinking and evading this unearthly horror and not simply headbutting it into submission.

    1. ET says:

      I assumed that Shamus meant, that they’d keep the character’s age the same, and all the art assets, and just change her name, and some of the flavour text in the story.

      1. Alex says:

        He was talking about a game taking place during the attack on the colony. That doesn’t give you much of a window to work with.

    2. If they let you play as Newt, they’d risk the inevitable comparisons to “Among the Sleep.”

      It’s also a prequel concept for an existing character, which means we already know how the game canonically ends. Yes, there could be some fun stuff in there, but ultimately we know we’ll be found by Ripley, cocooned, rescued, and then basically die off-camera for the first of several flawed-to-awful sequel films.

  22. BenD says:

    I would say the ‘elf’ on the front of the ESO website looks like a human with pointy ears. She doesn’t look Altmer or Bosmer to me. Just human. In costume. XD

  23. Paul Spooner says:

    I was at home with my kids this morning listening to this podcast. As the computer was sitting un-touched, the “Passage” screensaver came on, and the kids ended up staring at it while listening to the audio. At some point I moved the mouse to check my e-mail or something and when I left my two-year-old started complaining.
    “Daddy I can’t hear the guys.”
    I respond, confused “You can hear them just fine.”
    “No Daddy!” she says “Bring them back. I can’t see them.”

    So, congratulations Diecast! You look like Shamus’ experimental screen saver.

  24. Muspel says:

    The main draw of MMOs, in my opinion, is that they’re actually under constant development.

    With a game like, say, Fallout 3, you play through it, and then maybe there’s some DLC that gets released, and some patches to fix some bugs or UI issues. Then that dries up. Fallout 3 will never see another patch, and it’s incredibly unlikely that we’ll see more DLC for it. Any bugs that still exist are there to stay. (We’re ignoring mods for purposes of this discussion, since most games are not amenable to them.)

    But with an MMO,there are new content releases, and the development team keeps working on bugs and gameplay systems indefinitely. People talk about skinner boxes, but I think that’s not necessarily the best way of looking at it. In a single-player RPG, you’ll get to the end-game and get the best gear, and then find that there’s nothing else to do. In World of Warcraft or Rift or whatever, there’ll be new content that’s even harder that lets you put all of those things you’ve earned to use. So, yeah, it’s a loop, but that’s not inherently bad as long as you find the content enjoyable.

    The constant flow of improvements also means that if you quit the game and come back, there’s more of an incentive to stick with the same character. With Skyrim, you’re very likely to start a new game if you go back to it, because your old character has probably finished a lot of the game. But with an MMO, there’ll be brand-new stuff for you to do.

    1. Zukhramm says:

      Personally, that is part of what drove me away from World of Warcraft. The WoW content model is completely unsustainable and bothers me as a player on some fundamental level that just makes me unable to enjoy parts of it even if I’d otherwise think it was fun. With new content making old content obsolete, I just can’t enjoy myself knowing so much content is sitting there unused.

      1. aldowyn says:

        Seems perfectly sustainable to me. I mean, you pretty much have to get a super mega hit, although there are a FEW MMOs that have been getting by well enough under the radar (Turbine’s games come to mind)

    2. Disc says:

      It’s also their main drag at this point, if you ask me. It’s the main reason I haven’t touched Lotro for over a year now. Arbitrary class changes out of nowhere, yet another boring 10 levels to grind through just so I could start the soulcrushing grind for legendary weapons and items all over again and yet even more bland areas and NPCs to explore and interact. Isengard felt lackluster in more ways than one and Rohan just went silly with its pathetic attempt at mounted combat (it’s like driving a very badly simulated RWD-car), which was pretty much the final straw.

      The main problem I have with the system is when it rewards only those who’ve got the time to explore all the content before the next update and with the general bias of developing the endgame with raiding content in mind, where you’re just shit out of luck if you’re unable to find decent groups to raid with. Not to forget having to find the time for the weekly runs in the first place.

    3. Constant development is rewarding if you mean “new places to go and play in.” Secondary joy comes from improving mechanics on occasion. The problem with MMO vs. a game like Fallout is you have zero effect on the game world in the MMO, where even at its worst, Fallout lets you blow up several locations permanently, kill NPCs forever, and have at least a moderate effect on the game’s end result.

      I loved City of Heroes, but I would’ve loved it even more if players could have left some kind of mark on the experience for everyone to see. I realize that’s a tall order, but grinding through the same old same old to get a new ‘toon up to a decent level is really boring no matter the setting.

  25. The Nick says:

    Best out of context quote ever:

    “My daughter loves stealing.”

  26. Benjamin Hilton says:

    Star Wars Galaxies. Man, that brings up some memories.

    I was actually the the same as Josh in that Galaxies was my first introduction to MMOs. I could honestly write a novel on what the game did right and what it did wrong as it changed and died.

    I think here I will limit myself to some of the things that made it unique in a good way:

    The idea that each planet had huge amounts of tract-less land on which players could build their own cities with vendors an shuttle ports is kind of amazing ( even if they usually ended up as ghost towns ).

    on that vein having your own house that you could decorate was great too…if you think people spend time dressing their characters, the time people put into decorating their houses or shops was insane.

    There also wasn’t such an emphasis on fighting. I would sometimes just sit in the cantina chatting with other cantina regulars.

    There was a guy on my server that ran a news paper. He sold subscriptions on that market, and ran role play “stories about events in the game world, and he even paid other players to write pieces as well.

    My mom played and she ran here own tailor shop. She started working with this other girl on her server and they ran fashion shows. see in Galaxies you could actually design clothes if you were a crafter: the color the trim the shape. Imagine the funny formal wear or Christmas outfits you see in other games accept they were 100% designed and made by players, not Devs. They would buy advertising droids and send them to major cities to hype up the show for a week ahead of time. Then they would pay players to wear the clothes and walk up and down the runway of the cantina in their player made city. And during breaks the audience would run across the street to buy clothes from their stores.

    The players who did fight sold themselves as mercenaries to the other players. When my mom started to do republic quests she just hired other players to walk her through the battles: in her role play, she wasn’t a fighter but a successful business women who helped the rebellion by supplying money to pay for mercs and weapons.

    I’ve never seen an MMO with that much freedom and ability to be who and what you wanted even if that person was a business owner, a newspaper editor, or just a simple lounge rat.

    OK I could go on longer but I’ve already gone on to long so here is my much to late digression.

    1. Henson says:

      This is really neat to read. I’m not an MMO person myself, so seeing the breadth that these games are capable of is really nice. It also strengthens my thought that the best MMOs let players create their own fun rather than providing it all for them.

      1. Benjamin Hilton says:

        It’s really the only mmo I’ve seen that let players truly live in the world without needing to do combat…at least until they started to make changes….but I think I will cut myself off before I rant on that lol

  27. Ryan says:

    I will say that communities who talk about loving Elder Scrolls lore are generally less about loving the world in the games (well, specifically the games that aren’t Morrowind) and more about loving what that world could be, as presented by the writings of people like Michael Kirkbride and Kurt Kuhlmann.

    1. Disc says:

      This. Though I’m personally also a sucker for the many in-game books which (the good ones anyway) often make the world seem more interesting than it is. Lets me use my imagination more to fill in the gaps, I guess, since being as short as they are, they’re never too rich in detail, yet often give just enough to make for an interesting read.

  28. Andy_Panthro says:

    Really surprised nobody mentioned Ultima Online, which took a very different approach to the MMO. While not massively successful, it had (has?) a good following of people.

    It’s mechanics encouraged a certain amount of community and non-combat gameplay.

    It was the first MMO I played (well, I briefly played Meridian59 which was a MUD), and I always wondered why all future MMOs went so much for the Everquest/WOW model and left the UO ideas alone. Especially now that it has been shown that trying to beat WOW at it’s own game is a frustrating experience.

  29. Phantos says:

    Someone needs to make an Animal-House style ending for the Diecast crew.

  30. So, going from their remarks in the podcast, I can’t help but get the vibe that Shamus, Josh, Chris, and Rutskarn think all F2P MMOs are inherently failures. That seems a bit presumptive to me (and I’d add that statement has a whole bunch of unpleasant implications that I don’t want to bring up until they’ve had a chance to let me know if I’m reading them wrong) so, hopefully, if I’m reading them completely wrong, one of them will say otherwise, so I don’t assume that they’re saying horrible things that they actually aren’t.

    1. aldowyn says:

      Not true at all. Although precious few good MMOs have actually started out free.

      There’s a few grind-fest F2P MMOs out there, mostly from korea, that very much work on a ‘whale’ model like mobile/social games, but whether or not they’re ‘good’ is up for debate.

      Anyways, it’s a reasonable judgement to make, IMO, for a game that starts out P2P and transitions. It shows that the payment model that they planned isn’t working as well as they hoped.

      … although now I’m wondering if any devs plan such a transition out ahead of time. Hmm.

      1. Well, there’s a review show out there that focuses on F2P MMOs (The MMO Grinder), and John Burkehart, who does the show, has given some games good reviews (he particularly liked Age of Wushu).

  31. Greg says:

    I remember Shadowbane, that was my Star Wars Galaxies. It had a lot of the same player-based appeal. There was definitely some good buried deep in there, but there was even more bad on top. The free-for-all PVP aspect of it was played up so much that people assumed it was the only reason to play. I really enjoyed the player-built cities that would actually act as your guild’s hub, making you feel more connected to your guildmates. Of course the horrible bugs and combat system, as well as the inevitable toxic greifer attitude of the players drawn to the PVP outweighed all of the positives. But it was my first MMO and none will ever recreate the joy I got out of that game.

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