Diecast #75: Diablo II, Final Fantasy 13, Concursion

By Shamus Posted Sunday Sep 28, 2014

Filed under: Diecast 180 comments

The plan this week was to talk about the canceled Blizzard MMO and a few other current topics. Instead we talked about a sixteen-year-old hack-n-slash. I don’t know. That’s how this show goes sometimes.

And yes, I’m still fiddling with the theme music. Based on the feedback last week, most people would prefer if I just went back to the original theme that we used for 70 episodes. I might. But allow me this little vanity for now. It’s short and I’m having fun with it.

Direct download (MP3)
Direct download (ogg Vorbis)
Podcast RSS feed.

Hosts: Jarenth, Josh, Shamus, and Rutskarn.

Show notes:

2:00 Shamus is playing Diablo 2.

Here is the video I mentioned: Ideas about a new programming language for games.

19:00 Josh is playing Final Fantasy 13.

Warning: I’m pretty sure Josh spoils the plot of the game in this segment. I can’t tell for sure because I had slammed my hands over my ears, groaning uncontrollably after the first hour of his description.

35:00 Jarenth is playing Concursion and Crypt of the NecroDancer.

Here is his review on Concursion.

But somehow we end up talking about leaderboad games. This is the game I was talking about. I like it a bunch. Just remember: Don’t tell Chris.

45:00 Rutskarn is playing Payday 2 and Far Cry 2.

But instead of talking about those he tells us some tabletop gaming stories, which are a lot more interesting.


From The Archives:

180 thoughts on “Diecast #75: Diablo II, Final Fantasy 13, Concursion

  1. David says:

    I acknowledge the lack of relevance of this comment, but… the RSS feed you link to doesn’t contain this episode yet. So it’s a bit laggy?

    1. Shamus says:

      The RSS feed is actually maintained by a fan of the show. I’ve tried a few times to figure out how to get WordPress to generate one automatically, but the hooks to do so are confusing, poorly documented, and don’t work the way I’d expect them to. I’ve never sorted it out.

      1. bookwyrm says:

        Looking at the WordPress codex, WordPress should automatically take the links of the mp3 in the post and add it to the rss feed when you publish the post. The only difference between the example they give and the diecast mp3 link that I can see is that the href to the diecast mp3 uses single quotes (href=’http://www.shamusyoung.com/diecast/diecast75.mp3′) instead of double quotes (href=”http://www.shamusyoung.com/diecast/diecast75.mp3″). Maybe WordPress is having an issue finding the mp3 file to include it into the rss? Then again, I’ve never made a website so what do I know.

        1. David says:

          The single-quotes don’t make a difference. I’d bet it’s a server-configuration issue — WordPress has to fetch the URL you enter for the podcast file to build the enclosure in the feed when you publish the post. I’d guess that PHP has been prohibited from loading URLs (or curl isn’t installed, if that’s what WordPress is trying to use; not sure about that).

    2. ydant says:

      The script that generates the feed only runs once an hour during hours when my laptop is turned on.

      It’s a simple Python script (source code below) that could be easily run by someone else in a cron job:


  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Whaa….that pop song opening…speechless.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ooooh,now I get it.Shamoose made that because final fantasy is todays topic.Didnt know you were such a yuna fan,Shamoose.

    2. Tizzy says:

      It worked a lot better for me than Shamus’ previous theme. I can definitely live with that one.

      1. I never knew he had such an incredible vocal range, to be honest.

    3. evileeyore says:

      Hey Shamus,

      Any chance you can put this and your last opener (the previous Diecast) on Soundcloud?

      I really dig ’em.

      1. Shamus says:

        This opener is actually a bit of Joypuke, which is already up. (Although if you really want the 20 second version I can upload it.)

        The previous one? Sure. I’ll upload that.

        1. I really think “joypuke” should be an actual word.

          Like, describing the feeling you get when you eat a snack cake you really loved as a kid to find that not only have your tastes changed, due to the costs of actual ingredients the formula for the cream filling is now something that’s mostly foam insulation and pureed jellyfish.

          1. syal says:

            Joypuke is what happens when something is sickeningly sweet.

        2. evileeyore says:

          Cool. I didn’t recognize as Joypuke, but then I’ve a bit of a tin ear.

          And yeah, I’d like the other one.

  3. ET says:

    Minor note: I think it’s Crypt of the Necrodancer, not Lair. Looks fun and weird. :)

    1. Jarenth says:

      It is! It’s so much fun. All should play it, and give Brace Yourself Games their money.

      1. Corpital says:

        Awful at it and yet I can’t stop playing. This game really is great.

      2. Nidokoenig says:

        How good is it at converting music into fun? Games that try to generate levels and rhythms from random music files can be pretty hit and miss, and the best ones in my opinion are Audiosurf and Beat Hazard, which basically produce a level that’s roughly as frantic or relaxed as the tune you put in but any resemblance to the rhythm is accidental unless it’s a drum solo. They also go very interesting flavours of batshit when fed Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, which is a must for this type of game.

        1. Jarenth says:

          The default is that every level has a set soundtrack. The music itself doesn’t factor into the gameplay much. The only element that has any significant influence is the beat: faster beats mean faster movements, for you and your enemies.

          You can change the set level music for your own music, I think. Not sure why you’d want to, but there you go.

          1. Because my taste in music is unassailable and dwarfs the choices of any mere game developer, no question about it.

            Also, how could any rhythm game not be improved by the use of Weird Al?

  4. Wulfgar says:

    Cool thing about Diablo 2, with resolution mods it looks quite good. http://gamerlimit.com/files/2009/08/1440.jpg

  5. DIN aDN says:

    Also RE: Diablo II & damage types – I think poison is separate from elemental, magic & physical damage types? It’s been years though. Am I recalling correctly?

    1. Lanthanide says:

      D2 damage types:
      Fire, Lightning, Cold, Physical, Poison and (rarely) Magic.

      D1 had Magic, Fire and Lightning.

      D3 has D2 and adds Holy. But in D3 the damage types don’t mean much since monsters don’t really have different resistance or immunities like they did in D1-D2.

      1. Wooji says:

        As a sidenote, D2 only had ONE singel enemy that could spawn with immunity to all 5 and thats a undead in one of the false tal rasha tombs. Since he is undead he ca<n still be killed by a Blessed hammer paladin however.

        1. Vipermagi says:

          Depends on what version you play: Blessed Hammer no longer ignores Magic Resistance since patch 1.13. :)
          Prior to said patch there was exactly one monster type immune to Blessed Hammer, and it was in a completely optional area. Welp.

          1. Wooji says:

            I was thinking of Ancient Kaa the Soulless who if i recall correctly could spawn with all immunitys

            1. RCN says:

              As far as I recall, these enemies with immunities to all could only be faced with some way to lower resistance. Be it a sorc with the right specs (if I recall Cold mastery ignored part of monster resistance) or a Necromancer with the curse to lower resistances (which all necromancers should have, regardless of spec), since immunities were often set to 100%, any reduction would mean you could get some damage in (though I believe to remember a few monsters having set resistances higher than 100%)

              Of course, this means these monsters could only be defeated in multiplayer unless you were already playing with the right class (also, I’m pretty sure the very first curse of the necromancer worked by lowering resistance to physical).

      2. You can’t use those abbreviations.

        D1 is Descent into the Depths of the Earth.
        D2 is Shrine of the Kuo-Toa.
        D3 is Vault of the Drow.

        There are no other uses for these designations. Ever. They called D&Dibs on them.

        1. eaglewingz says:

          Also the only way Drow should be used.


  6. Arven says:

    Having hundreds of cheaters is fine as long as you can clearly see where cheaters end and legit score begin. What’s bad is when there is a gradual progression from the totally cheater to your score. I played Mark of the Ninja a while ago, and the hiscore is Integer.MaxValue and then slowly decrease till I see my name. It’s really demoralizing to see after I diligently drag every single guards to a dumpster (they each take turns in the dumpster) because I can’t see how well I did.

    Nowadays though, I only do serious leaderboard hunting on Monaco (and even then, I tried to do perfect stealth run (because no one else will)). There’s sometimes cheater there, but the mod always swiftly removes them.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      nb4 “It was tremendously decent if you ignore its myriad faults and had very low expectations.”

  7. The Rocketeer says:

    Josh: Tidus isn’t a variant of Titus. It’s Okinawan.

    I’m always amazed to hear which games in the series people think are the most or least favorite. Just last week, someone on the forum seemed to think no one even remembers FFIX, even though the Internet frickin’ loves that game, and gives it top ratings every chance it can.

    And Shamus thinks no one likes FFX? Bonkers. I very rarely find people that dislike the game; other than people like Rutskarn that don’t like the series generally, people tend to either say FFX is their favorite or “good, but flawed.”

    Rutskarn: If you or anyone else wants to read about Final Fantasy, but don’t know very much about it, I did a Let’s Play of FFXII on the forum.

    I chose to do FFXII because I find it very flawed, but fascinatingly so, like Far Cry 2. I only talk a little about the mechanics, and focus a lot more on nitpicking the narrative, examining the themes, and speculating about the very long, strange development cycle. You don’t need to know anything about the game upfront, and you probably won’t know anything about the game afterwards.

    While it is very long, I do try to make it entertaining and you can probably just jump in at any point and skim as much or as little as you want.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      There are some lovely gems in there about the themes of the Final Fantasy series as a whole. I enjoyed reading it … though it really could use a summary. Maybe something like:
      “Final Fantasy 12 … This fucking game!”

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Here’s your summary: Like Game of Thrones, but with the characters of Arrested Development, and without intentional comedy.

    2. Darren says:

      It’s an interesting franchise for this (and many other) reasons. I’m one of the few people who rank Final Fantasy X-2 higher than Final Fantasy X. For the record, these are my top three:

      1) IX
      2) XII
      3) X-2

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I thought practically everyone liked x-2 more than x.Mostly because no tidus.

        1. Darren says:

          X-2 may well be the most reviled title after XIII. Players generally did not respond well to it’s campy dress-up vibe. It’s a shame, because as a more non-linear game with lots of opportunities for player customization and less need for grinding, it was somewhat ahead of its time.

        2. Thomas says:

          You say that because Spoony said that and a few others. But FFX is hugely popular and frequently seconds ‘best FF game ever’ in polls and won tons of awards and sold millions of copies. FFX-2 is never in the running, was a critical failure (at first) and sold much less.

          Now time has passed people have realised that they lashed out at X-2 only because they were expecting something as good as X, and a few FFX haters have joined the wave to support FFX-2. But most people are only going to say it’s a fun game, whereas people adore X

    3. allfreight says:

      +1 for surprise about Final Fantasy X. In the set of people “I know that like Final Fantasy games” FFX it is universally consider great.

    4. Kalil says:

      Heh, I’m one of those people who really liked FFX – and I also quite liked Tidus.
      I’d say X was my favorite FF, followed by VIII and IX. V was my favorite of the pre-3d era.

      I’m currently (re)playing XII. Man. I’d forgotten how very much I despise all the characters except Fran, Balthier, Larsa, and Vayne. Dunno if I’ll make it through this time. I ragequit last time after the Evil Twin ‘reveal’ (I put ‘reveal’ in quotes because, seriously, if you didn’t see that coming by the end of the tutorial…). Dumbest. Trope. Ever.

    5. Tizzy says:

      I tolerated FFX pretty well. Then again: (1) it is the only FF I ever played; (2) it convinced me to stay away from the other, in that I can only appreciate this kind of stuff in VERY SMALL doses.

    6. Retsam says:

      My theory on FFX is that it’s not terrible so much as it’s memetically terrible. There are a few people who are put off by the main character so much that they hate the game, and they’ve been so vocal, and charismatic about their dislike for the game, (combined with how the internet works) that their opinion gets repeated across the internet.

      Spoony’s review of the game I think being the biggest cause of the game. (This is, of course, all rampant off-the-cuff speculation, but it’s the most significant criticism that I see floating around when people attack the game)

      You get to the point where a percentage of people who haven’t played the game already “know” that the game is terrible; which colors their opinion of the game if they do play it, or never do play it, but know that if they complain: “man wasn’t that laughing scene terrible”, they’ll get some laughs.

      And thus, you can browse the internet with the impression that everyone hates the game, despite the fact that, I’d wager more that better than half of the people who play it actually enjoy the game.

      See also: the memetic terribleness of Thomas Edison, which I attribute (in more rampant speculation) almost entirely to this Oatmeal comic.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I could see that. Spoony does at least admit that the gameplay is a big improvement over the FF8 magic farming nonsense. Of course he ripped into both games and FF13.

        Personally, I’ve been put off Final Fantasy ever since the graphics got good enough that the anime/manga* influences became unavoidable (basically post FF6 but I am giving 7 a shot and we’ll go from there. If FF7, being the best post 6 game in the series by all accounts, doesn’t grab me there’s no point in continuing.)

        *Yes I’m conflating genre and medium because in the states, anime functions almost as a genre or a small bundle of related genres that to the American eye have more similarities than differences. I’m annoyed by pink hair and squeaky voices and loud, noisy, graphic design. Sue me.

        1. syal says:

          Final Fantasy 7 is the most well-remembered of the games, not the best. Final Fantasy 10 is better than Final Fantasy 7; the characters are better, the combat is better, the story is complete and the weapons are more interesting. But it doesn’t have a world map so the setpiece nature of the levels becomes hugely apparent, and the cutscenes get so close together that they pretty much blend into each other. It’s the first game to feel like it’s nothing but a series of cutscenes. Blitzball is too long compared to the card games, the main character is a bleached-blonde sports jock, there are no major sidequests except the weapon quest which is arbitrarily hard. There are absolutely things to not like about it.

          8 was insane. Every game in the series is simultaneously better and worse than 8.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            Having thought about it for a day or two, there’s a middle ground between the noisy hyper-colored over-designed super-linear twee-ness of Japanese RPGs and the dour grimdarkness often present in Western RPGs that I’d like. My sensibilities would probably lean me more towards the latter but it feels like there’s a blend of the two in there somewhere that hasn’t been tried that would be pretty awesome.

            1. syal says:

              I haven’t played it, but NIER seems like it might be close to a middle ground.

    7. Kathryn says:

      I enjoyed that LP very much! I did like XII (primarily because it had a large, well-developed world with tons of flavor and lots of sidequests for NPCs), but I definitely agree with your points on the stupidity and obtuseness of much of the actual plot and the total uselessness of Vaan.

      To your criticism of X (destroying the only known means to fight Sin without having an actual plan to end Sin), there is a fanfic…no, keep reading…called “Soldier of Spira” that is told from Auron’s POV that makes sense of that, plus a ton of other stuff. The fic dramatically enhances my enjoyment of X and is basically my head-canon now. It is sadly unfinished, but still worth reading.

  8. silver Harloe says:

    That RPG system sounds interesting, with the “GM doesn’t roll” aspect. Link to the original post-apoc one? (obviously your modification to make it a corp game probably isn’t online)

    I’m just trying to imagine how it goes in say, comat… I’m getting a vibe like, instead of the D&D style roll for each hit, and roll for damage… if you’re in combat you can: not take major injuries, demolish the enemy, not use up all your expendable resources. And if you roll ‘medium’, you get to pick a result like “well, I used up all my medical supplies and I’m bleeding, but I won” or “I’m bleeding, but I still have my ammo, but after taking some losses, the enemy retreated and is probably regrouping for another run” ?

    1. Wooji says:

      Beyond Apocalypse World there are an aditional 8 games using the same game engine with different settings

    2. Merlin says:

      At least in Dungeon World (an Apocalypse World hack that specifically mimics D&D), the gist is that the GM presents an impending danger, and the player’s decisions and success drive the outcome. There’s no strict turn/initiative order, so most of the time, the situation will be presented as “Bad things are about to happen. Who’s doing something about it?”

      The most basic, dice-rolly scenario is looks roughly like this:

      *** EXAMPLE TIME ***

      GM: “The orc charges at you, swinging his axe. What do you do?”
      Player: “Same thing! I rush at him and try to thrust my sword into his chest!”
      GM: “Sounds like Hack & Slash, roll it”

      The Player makes the relevant roll. On a success, his attack works, on a failure, the orc’s attack works, and on a partial success, both attacks work. The GM makes the call of what “works” actually means, because the engine expects combat to be a lot more than just two dudes knocking HP off of each other. There might be specific injuries involved, equipment can get lost or broken, people might get moved around, or other terrible circumstances may arise. It’s intentionally loose so that the GM has a lot of latitude to spice things up.

      *** END EXAMPLE ***

      That’s the gist, but there are a lot of different ways to play that depending on circumstances – it’s a lot less dice-dependent than D&D, so you’ll run into plenty of situations of “Yeah he can’t defend himself, do your damage or just kill him or something,” or “You easily step behind the pillar, avoiding the Fireball in time.” I definitely encourage you to look into Apocalypse World spinoffs, and in particular give a lot of props to the Dungeon World chapter on GMing, which has some great system-agnostic advice.

    3. Joe Informatico says:

      The EDEN Studios Unisystem does something similar, with the PCs rolling defense rolls against enemy attacks. In effect, the players are rolling the enemy’s attack rolls, making them feel more like active participants in the combat, while the GM has less rolls to worry about. (I saw a similar house rule proposed for 2nd ed. D&D in Dragon magazine many, many years ago.) IIRC the GM can choose to roll for important/named NPCs.

      Unlike what Apocalypse World and its variants sound like, though, it’s all-or-nothing actions traded back and forth. Either you hit the enemy or you don’t. Then, either the enemy hits you or it doesn’t. AW seems to stipulate an interaction: PC and NPC attempt to hurt each other; roll to determine final result.

      NB: I’ve only played the Buffy/Angel RPGs, I don’t know if this description holds up for All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Witchcraft, or other games using this sytem.

      1. Adam says:

        I’ve played the Buffy RPG and the version of the Unisystem it uses sounds NOTHING like that. Still fun, though. We knew we had a winner when our Slayer beat a vamp to death with a moped.

  9. Orogoth the Overlord of Oranges says:

    Oooh, diablo 2? In the interests of removing Shamus’ free time, I heartily recommend the Median XL mod. It’s a complete revamp of the classes, items, and enemies.

  10. Man, Chris doing a live remote from Disney would’ve been amazing. He’s so not a team player.

    Of course, there’s probably some rule against podcasting from the park without paying a fee…

  11. Jarenth says:

    I’ll be honest: I was kinda banking on this podcast coming out on some day and time after my review actually launched. Which, at time of writing, is… about one hour from now.

    What I’m taking away here is that Shamus released this Diecast early just to make me look like a fool.

    Well-played, Shamus.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      He had to do something for that?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “And what in the devil is a “˜Concursion”˜? ”

          Isnt it obvious?Its opposite of revengance.

          “Enough about those, though, let's get back to the ninjas.”

          I have this vague vibe that you may like ninjas.But I may be wrong about that.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          By the way,if you want a weird indy game,Ill recommend super time force ultra.Its really short,every level is just one minute long*wink*.

  12. I wonder if the propensity for new players to go for the Druid class had more to do with 3.0’s (I believe) amazingly broken spells for the class. The go-to was Stoneskin, which IIRC originally lasted an hour or so, making the Druid a tank. There were also other weapon/spellcasting buffs that would then turn the Druid into what was often referred to as a CoDzilla (Cleric or Druid Godzilla).

    I can also see a DM wanting to give a more survivable yet cool-ish (re: magic) class to a newbie, but it was pretty over-the-top.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      Divine spells are less limited than Arcane spells, allow you to wear armor, and Druids get more offensively-minded spells than Clerics do. So yeah they’re pretty awesome at high levels.

      1. Kalil says:

        Every time I started to build a Ranger in NWN or other D&D(based) games of that generation, I’d get halfway done and realize that a Druid with (or without) a few levels of Fighter was better in every possible respect except Favored Enemy, a silly bit of flavor I didn’t really like anyhow.

    2. Melfina the Blue says:

      I went for druid the first time because my DM told me to, plus I got a treant mount. So, totally her fault ( in her defense, she had 12? characters in game and no one was willing to heal). The zenophobic and racist elf who likes to hang gnomes on coat hooks, that was all me.
      They’ve become my default for 3.5 because of their flexibility. I tend to be the filler of random roles no one else wanted in my groups, so it’s nice to be able to come in with a decently powered yet flexible character.
      And yet I hate wild shape and hit a prestige class asap to avoid it. And I’ve never done a druid tank, always focused on spells with bow backup.

    3. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Last I checked 3e stoneskin had a costly material component that the DM could logically restrict access to. Maybe 250gp is not a lot to pay for diamond dust to cast the spell at higher levels but you could still restrict access to diamonds and a number of other interesting spells have diamond and/or diamond dust as a component so a player could potentially have to balance and ration between those spells.

      It boggles me that people don’t get how to balance things for spellcasters. I can see where the problems are for Druids but Wizards? There are lots of ways you can screw over a Wizard. He has to research most of his spells. That means having to shop town to town to find scrolls AND finding downtime to scribe spells; time which can be in short supply. The research also costs money. No other class has to buy their abilities like that.

      He has to have his hands free and no one in his face. He has to choose the right spells to get past resistances and immunities. He has to ration his magic in dungeons where there are multiple encounters between rests. And yes if you put a lot of thought into it, you can break things but 1) Thought should be rewarded (and playing a spellcaster is more work than playing a fighter) and 2) If its ruining the fun, thats what you have a DM for.

  13. lethal_guitar says:

    Personally, I liked the previous theme song much more – the first one you made, Shamus. By the way, maybe you could upload that to SoundCloud as well?

    1. Ivan says:

      I know I pooped on that one, but then it started to grow on me and now i kinda like it (it’s still too long for an intro though). Maybe this one will grow on me too…?

  14. 16:38 – ENEMY IS EVERYWHERE!!

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:


  15. Serious question: Western RPGs are known for being more linear than JRPGs? Apart from what I’ve heard about the Persona series or other relationship-sims, I was always under the impression that JRPGs were basically novels with combat zones in between cutscenes. Yeah, a lot of RPGs in general are like that, but this is a query about which kinds of games do it more often. Does Japan now favor games more like the Fallout series where you can cause multiple results at the end of the game other than ones labeled “Good” “Normal” or “Bad?”

    And I hate the Final Fantasy combat style, but I didn’t realize how much I disliked it until I recently played Anachronox. It makes kicking butt seem more like bookkeeping. That’s not me saying all FF-combat games stink, I’m just saying that in my personal tastes, even in a turn-based system, it just isn’t for me.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      You’re right; that’s entirely backwards. When I think JRPG, I think Final Fantasy, SaGa, Dragon Quest, Tales, and so one. When I think WRPG, I think Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Arcana, Baldur’s Gate, and so on. I think it’s a pretty clear distinction.

      But I don’t recall when or if they said this, and can’t be bothered to listen to the whole thing again the check. If they did say this, it was almost certainly either a momentary lapse of reason or a simple misspeaking.

      1. 20:33, Josh says: “It is super linear. It is, like, more than Western RPGs super linear, like more than Mass Effect 3 that we complain about all the time kind of linear.”

        I’d be curious to know which RPGs (both Western and JRPG) he considers to not be super-linear.

        1. MintSkittle says:

          I think what makes it more linear than other JRPGs is the complete removal of towns where you could stop and poke around a more open area and chat up npcs. There’s none of that in XIII. They’ve been excised completely and reduced to the save points that double as shops. That and there’s only a couple of small side paths for hidden loot. Much more focused on driving the player forward by removing all distractions.

          1. Indeed, Josh mentioned that. What I’m questioning is his apparent statement that Western RPGs are more linear than JRPGs. This hasn’t been my experience in the least, with nearly all the JRPGs I’ve played having been exceedingly linear vs. several (not all, of course, but far more) Western RPGs where you have branching choices and options that affect the game’s eventual outcome.

    2. silver Harloe says:

      They were almost certainly referring to the part in Act 3 of previous FF entries where you get the flying thing and can visit the whole world (and dick around and do nothing that helps the plot, but just helps you collect the rest of the collectibles and level up)…

      …but the thing is, most western RPG I know of effectively start out in what FF would call Act 3 (in terms of mobility, not plot), so I’m not entirely sure what they mean by that.

      1. Thomas says:

        Yeah, even games that people probably don’t remember as linear, definitely were. I think some people remember FFVII’s world map and think it must have been open world, but they forget there was actually only one path through that world map until the very late game.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          Typically, Final Fantasy would give you freedom in the form of optional areas along your way, or optional things to do accomplish, rather than freedom of whether or not to go to an “important” place or to meaningfully alter the narrative.

          Aside from the endgame/postgame glut of side areas that open once you have full world access, there’s typically at least one optional place to visit every time you’re granted a new mode of transport or a new large landmass to visit, but to keep with your FFVII example, you have places like Fort Condor (available very early, but only necessary once at the end of the game); Gongaga, which is entirely optional; and Wutai, which, with its sidequest, is completely optional, and the sunken plane, which is a bonus area.

          Then you have things which must happen but have various possible outcomes, like Wall Market, Cloud’s various relationships within the party, or saving or losing the Huge Materia. And of course, you have optional characters Yuffie (random, but increasingly likely) and Vincent (somewhat obscure).

          These are the sort of liberties permitted by the Final Fantasy series throughout its lifespan, with really only FFXIII breaking the pattern. In all Final Fantasies, the glut of side areas that open prior to the finale tend to be what people remember of the “openness,” since these things tend to exist much more for their own sake with less narrative interlock, and often take the most time, like breeding chocobos of FFX’s monster arena.

    3. Thomas says:

      ‘Apart from what I heard about Persona’ is funny, because Persona literally is a novel with combat zones between the cutscenes. It’s part visual novel and there’s actually a huge defined Combat Zone where it keeps sending you to do your fighting

      (Inbetween there’s some relationship sim stuff though)

      1. Yeah, the stuff I hear mostly about Persona IS the relationship stuff, which I assume is where one’s choices are made in regards as to who you’d like to romance. Now, I dunno how nuanced THAT is, either, whether there are multiple ways to win one’s true love or if it’s as set in stone as finding the password to a bad guy’s computer, so… I dunno.

        1. Trix2000 says:

          The combat’s fleshed out enough to be very interesting in it’s own right, though. But to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t that which kept me playing (it was just a nice bonus).

          The main stories were well-crafted and very interesting, and the characters were pretty awesome. As far as the social aspect – YMMV on some of them, but most all of them had great little side stories to tell that really made you want to keep ranking them up.

          Part of why I recommend doing them at least once without a guide (and thus not 100%ing) is because it feels so much more organic that way – like actually going through a year meeting/befriending people and learning about their lives. Nothing quite like it IMO.

          1. How much branching is there in the story based on what you do? I was under the impression that your interactions with the characters were where the meat of what people liked was located. Is it variable based on certain decisions, or is it one of those “click on all options to see all the codex entries” kind of thing?

            1. Trix2000 says:

              There’s not a ton of actual branching, at least as far as the main plot goes… but what is there IS pretty important. Namely, there are multiple endings (IIRC Persona 3 has two, Persona 4 has 3-5 depending on how you classify them) but they tend to be varying levels of success and ultimately you’ll want the best one.

              What tends to matter more on a smaller scale is all the little dialog choices you make throughout the entire game. A significant number don’t do much aside from change the dialog (though some are hilarious), but many many more with give small benefits or better boost your relationship with people. There’s a lot of room for actual role-playing here with all the choices you get, and that’s not including what you choose to do each day (meet with this person? study? pet a cat all day???).

              Most all the dialog choices are one-shot affairs – you won’t get cases of running down the list of options much at all (there’s like, maybe two cases of it). You can look up a guide or reload if you want a good option, but honestly for a first time it’s a lot more fun and interesting to go with what seems right.

              In any case, the main story itself doesn’t change a whole lot based on your decisions, but there’s enough freedom to mold your character’s personality that it didn’t seem necessary to me.

              I tend to prefer 4 over 3, though both are very good. Can’t speak for 1 and 2, though they’re usually not what people refer to when it comes to Persona games as far as I’m aware.

              EDIT: You can even play as a complete jerk if you want to. Some of the options for it are pretty funny (Help / Be a jerk and leave).

        2. Alexander The 1st says:

          The Persona games have the social relationships (Generally referred to as S-Links, or Social Links, in game) do take up a large portion of the game itself, but the order you deal with them is entirely up to however you want to do them.

          The actual romance parts of a S-Link usually involve a specific set of dialogue options (Anywhere from 1 to 3 or so dialogue options in the entire tree of about 10 or so distinct dialogue branches), and in Persona 3 FES and Persona 4/Persona 4 Golden, while romancing multiple characters at once is possible, it has side effects.

          Romancing specific S-Links isn’t all the game has to it, though – there’s also platonic S-Links, and really, the most important part is the ranks, which you have a lot more control over how many ranks you get for each S-Link at any point of the game. The main reason these are important is that they contribute to effectively skipping levels of experience in the Combat Zones; less ranks in more S-Links give you more versatility in skipping levels across your Personas, whereas focusing on a small number of S-Links to increase their ranks gives less variety, but more efficiency in skipping levels of experience in the Combat Zones.

          EDIT: Forgot to add this, but as for the actual Combat Zones themselves, as someone mentioned below, they’re pretty much effectively puzzles. “Here’s a set of things to deal with; how do you choose to deal with them?”

  16. Hal says:

    Huh. So Waves basically looks like a sequel to Geometry Wars (which was a fun game itself, so I understand the appeal.)

  17. Rack says:

    Did you stereo mix this one? I saw a discussion about it on the last podcast. It’s a problem for me since I have single sided deafness.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Invest in something called a “stereo to mono adapter.” Don’t bother to thank me later. It’s all good.

      1. GTRichey says:

        Can’t speak for all devices but if you’re using Apple stuff there’s a system wide setting to force mono audio, I would think others would provide the same sort of functionality without costing you any money.

    2. DrMcCoy says:

      If you’re listening to it on a computer instead of a portable audio device, many audio players can downmix.

      For example, mplayer and ffplay/avplay can arbitrarily mix channels; as can sox, the audio swiss-army knife.

      VLC has a filter to downmix stereo to mono (at least version 2.2.0-pre2 does): Tools->Preferences->Audio->Filters, “Stereo to mono downmixer”. I’m not sure how well that performs, though.

      Also, if you’re on GNU/Linux I’m pretty sure you can configure ALSA to at least downmix to mono system-wide as well using your ~/.asoundrc.

    3. Mike S. says:

      FWIW, I listen to the Diecast in the car, and I’m finding the stereo mix a little jarring. Not a dealbreaker by any means, but distracting. I listen to stereo radio plays and have never noticed an issue, so I wonder if the positioning is more extreme than other productions.

      (Obviously, whatever Shamus and company want to do with their free volunteer entertainment is fine. This is more in case there’s any desire for feedback re the change.)

      1. harborpirate says:

        Just chiming in: I always prefer that podcasts mix in mono or something very close to it.

        I listen mostly in the car, so I can’t track down some obscure Android mono-audio setting even if I wanted to.

  18. Wooji says:

    About D2, the Trap assassin was accually a very strong endgame build but it requirede a rather high amount of +skill items and specific charms to reach its highpoint.

    Druids are also a rather strong class if built as a stupid mage focusing on the wind abilitys.

    1. syal says:

      Oh, wow. It took me until this post to realize everyone saying D2 was referring to Diablo 2, and not Kenji Eno’s fever dream.

  19. VgTam says:

    Arrrg so Josh has to go and poke the brain worm that's been in my head for the past month playing through this series…of this particular series. I picked this up to see what all the hate and fuss was about and I can't put my finger on it. Like Josh I don't hate it and I kind of second his ringing endorsement of it's okay if your into these sorts of games…If you can call that an endorsement.

    At its core mechanically all jrpg's are puzzle games, here's a bunch of puzzle pieces, here's an outline, you figure out the rest. Only you don't start with all the pieces and you need to find all the other pieces whether that be through grinding the games leveling system for an ability, finding the right item out in the world or a combination of the two. If you try to stick the fire spell piece on the pack of fire flan bad things will happen and no amount of jamming that piece on the board will solve that puzzle.

    Final fantasy 13 is incredibly linear but that linearity works in its favour when it comes to the enemy and boss design as the bosses are tightly tuned and solving each boss puzzle is really satisfying. Regardless of how you've been playing it's guaranteed you will have the pieces you need to solve the puzzle and you don't have to go back and grind a few more levels or find that obscure chest for that little bit of a power boost.

    For example there was a particular boss in Gapra Whitewood (The Bioweapon plant thing) that was kicking my arse and it took me a while to realise what was going on. I took the time to understand how to use the paradigm system effectively and once it was dead it felt so good. Add to that it wasn't a case of going back and farming mooks for exp; it was an issue of understanding the game outside of pressing auto battle. Even if you like over boosting yourself they've got you covered due to a mechanic where terrain transitions in certain areas resets the enemies so if you absolutely must grind those mooks you can go nuts.

    This tight tuning does get thrown out the window when you reach the point where the game opens up though and they pull a real scumbag move of putting an impossible puzzle as the first thing you see in the open area. Because you've been moving through each area in a direct line it does lead to a lot of frustration when the game now expects you to grind mobs and side quests because jrpg! to meet the sudden difficulty jump. It's not a case of all the enemies are hard mind you, it merely falls back on the mechanic of finding the right enemies to kill to boost your stats up high enough to meet the other challenges that are roaming around.

    The game then funnels you back into a linear fashion after this area and because of the wide variance of what your level is and the items you may have it's very easy to make these sections hard simply because you didn't grind enough. Add to that the final fantasy tradition of having a recurring antagonist show up and be a horrible fight occurs at this point. (Laughably easy though if you did the grind.)*

    As for the auto battle system it really is a case of where they've compromised the early game experience to make the late game experience playable, coming from other ATB (Action turn based) gauge like jrpg's the recharge rate is ridiculously fast (Even more so if you use haste and the unlocked ATB charging abilities later), so picking the right abilities in the right order without creating an overabundance of dead time would be impossible.

    To the average player the underlying mechanics are as overly complex as the story. They have it where chaining the same ability doesn't increase the stagger gauge as quickly as alternating abilities but when you add in monster types and attack types and each mobs special stagger conditions the few seconds the action timer gives you isn't really sufficient to make the right tactical choices. In the later fights that are ten minutes long you don't want to throw it all away because you put a particular piece in the wrong way when you were pressured for time.

    I think that's enough for now but considering how much I've managed to ramble on about the combat mechanics alone I think this wall could use a few less bricks.

    *Spoiler warning for Josh's sake if he isn't past the fields of pulse aka calm lands 2.0.

    This particular boss is a case where its mechanics are straight forward, the boss hits you regularly with beam attacks that may or may not debuff you with an assortment of nasty ailments but the fight steadily piles up more and more sources of these attacks to where you’re drowning in attacks, and every so often the boss will do a big attack that will be enough to push you over the edge if you've been managing poorly. The fight length varies from five to twentyish minutes based on your previous grinding and it is a battle of attrition to deal with the steady build up of nonsense the fight throws your way. It's either the source of much frustration or a push over.

  20. Name says:

    Trust me Josh the plot of Final Fantasy 13 will just keep getting worse and boring. I got to the 8 hour mark and just had to stop, good luck to you man. Also you bring up persona but the big difference if that you can turn the automation off. As for the rest of the cast calling it a typical FF plot I disagree its far far worse, just let that sink in. And I listed Myself as name like an idiot opps.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Actually, in vanilla Persona 3 and Persona 3: FES, you don’t have the option to Direct Control your party. That was added in Persona 4 and the portable remakes of both 3 and 4.

      Persona 3 had you direct your party members in the rough manner which they were supposed to behave on their turns. And you could only issue these orders during the protagonist’s turn. If your protagonist got confused/charmed/scared, good luck.

      1. Name says:

        Really? Oh well didn’t know that, my experience was with persona 3 FES and the portable version. Thank you for clarifying. I prob would have never played it if I couldn’t change that feature.

        1. Alexander The 1st says:

          The major difference that I find between P3 AI and FF XIII AI is that P3 isn’t in real time – which means when your turn comes around, you can adjust to your teammates doing stupid things like healing your teammate instead of you. FF XIII…gives you less time to adapt, and unlike the Tales Of/Star Ocean series games, the AI…is particularly stupid about that (Team medics [Essentially White Mages] only focus on lowest health, which means you’re usually better off just using an all-party-healing item Potion instead of actually relying medics for healing…)

          As for P3P adding the feature for Direct Commands…I never needed it in the main part of the game (Though I never did the special boss parts of the game) – there’s always some way to salvage your teammates tendency to do stupid stuff – like setting teammates to heal/support tactics and then revive a teammate with 50% HP, to get around Moonless Gown causing particular problems.

  21. NotDog says:

    So according to my interpretation of Josh’s summary of Final Fantasy 13’s plot:
    – There’s a planet and a moon, ruled by two sets of space gods with the power to make people into space messiahs
    – Planet and moon have a war
    – Moon wins; rebuilds itself using, among other things, a dormant Planet space god (did the Moon know they were using a dormant Planet space god?)
    – Dormant Planet space god awakens, kidnaps your sister
    – In the attempt to rescue your sister, accidents happen leading to you becoming a space messiah yourself

    This sound like the intro for the main story (is it just the intro?) like the parts of Skyrim’s main quest leading up to you learning you’re the Dragonborn.

    How this plot actually plays out aside, would this really be the bad kind of weird?

    1. Wooji says:

      If only it was that simple :P
      The plot gets more… complicated.. stupid.. LSD.. hmm i dont really know what the right word for it is but it gets more…

      1. NotDog says:

        I guess it really is all in the execution.

        The thing is, I would totally go for a crazy-yet-well-made New Age-y RPG about cyborg wizards and space whales and Roger Dean landscapes and such. SquareEnix seems to have a monopoly on that kind of world-building though.

        Most other RPG developers either go medieval fantasy or post-apocalyptic. The only non-Final Fantasy RPGs in my recent memory that break this mould are Mass Effect, Shadowrun Returns, and Jade Empire.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          If you count Jade Empire and Mass Effect, you can’t *not* count Kotor 1 & 2.
          Yeah, yeah, Star Wars, licensed IP, whatever, but it still counts :-P Actually ,the whole space opera world version exists as another “staple”. Oh, and there’s things like the Witcher, which you might try to classify as “standard medieval fantasy fare”, but frnakly, you’d be wrong, imo :p

          1. NotDog says:

            Good point about me missing the Knights of the Old Republic games.

            Though, aside from the Star Wars RPGs and a few DOS RPGs from the late 80s/early 90s that arguably weren’t all that good compared to their contemporaries, I haven’t seen that many sci fi or space opera RPGs. It’s mostly been variant of Medieval Europe (so I’ll even lump in the Witcher games) while the Fallout games provided hype for post-apocalyptic settings.

            1. Canthros says:

              Many moons ago, there was also Septerra Core, which was a Western-developed RPG with a very linear plot and science fictiony/fantasy setting, and a combat system not unlike a Final Fantasy game. Would’ve been around 1997 or so. IIRC, the world of the game’s setting was constructed as a series of seven interlocking layers. Also, it had robots and cyborgs and blue hair.

    2. Zukhramm says:

      That’s pretty much it, the important part being that you’re a space messiah for the other side, which makes the world treat you like terrorists which is why there are not towns. Or, there are towns, just not JRPG Town towns with item shops and people to talk to.

      And as a person who likes the game, it’s definitely the good kind of weird.

    3. The Rocketeer says:

      Keep in mind that none of the plot matters.

      The characters themselves never do anything, and all events are resolved through deus ex machina, including the ending.

      1. Ringwraith says:

        Eh, not really.

        It’s far too built up to come out of nowhere, just that for most of the time, they’re more-or-less doing exactly what they want them to do, except when they manage to wriggle out of it at the last minute.

        Most of the plot is about the characters themselves anyway. For better and worse.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          They don’t wriggle out, but are let out by Etro. Afterwards, they complete Barthandelus’ scheme for him anyway. The only real initiative taken is by Vanille and Fang… who form another deus ex machina, arbitrarily possessing power in whatever form and to whatever extent is needed to wrap up the plot.

          1. Ringwraith says:

            It’s implied Fang’s done something similar before however, so at least it makes sense there.
            The being “let out” literally only applies to the last thirty seconds of cutscene, and even then it turns out it’s not as simple as that…

    4. MichaelGC says:

      I always thought Cocoon was completely wrapped around Pulse (like a mini-Dyson schphere, or something), rather than orbiting around it like a moon.

      I could be completely wrong, though! I had only the barest inkling of what was actually occurring at any stage, if I’m honest.

      1. Zukhramm says:

        It’s neither around Pulse nor orbiting it but rather just floating in this one specific spot.

      2. Alexander The 1st says:

        It becomes a lot more clear once you actually land on Pulse. Even more clear the second time that happens.

    5. Klay F. says:

      Since I played FFXIII to completion I feel qualified to answer your points. FFXIII has a tendency to make up absurd names for its fairly mundane tropes, they even rival Neal Stephenson’s predilection for bullshit names for mundane things. The fal’Cie are demigods, they have the power to turn humans into thralls (l’Cie), albeit with far more free will than your typical tabletop thrall. The demigods give their thralls a specific task to accomplish and said thralls turn into zombies should they fail/run out of time or get put into stasis/hibernation should they succeed. Thralldom grants superhuman power, but said thralls are only given very vague visions of what their task entails.

      Now to your points:
      1.) Correct
      2.)Correct, but the details of which are kept intentionally vague for bullshit drama reasons.
      3.) Correct again, now spoiler: The moon DID know. This plot point is what actually the setup for what turns it from just a dumb story, to the most clichéd bullshit ever, which to explain would basically take all day.
      4.) A few of the detail differ, but in essence you are correct.
      5.) Also correct.

      The problem for this is that none of this is made clear to you from the beginning. It takes upwards of 20 hours for the plot to become transparent enough to be able to suss out the key points for yourself, not to mention to work out most of these point, you’ll have to read the game’s codex equivalent, as key plot elements aren’t provided as you play/watch cutscenes. The cutscenes in this game exist solely for the characters to angst, and for the games antagonist to “JUST AS PLANNED”.

      What the game is most guilty of in my opinion is using all manner of bullshit smoke and mirrors tactics to hide the fact that at its core, its just a stupid story about a bunch of powerful shitheads who want to kill the whole world to “wipe the slate clean” (i.e. the most cliched JRPG plot in the history of JRPGs).

      1. silver Harloe says:

        you forgot to link JUST AS PLANNED.

        That’s better.

        Man, I’m evil when I’ve been up 24 hours.

  22. Sougo says:

    > Josh is playing Final Fantasy 13

    Josh, Shamus and everyone at the Diecast, on the behalf of FF fans around the world, we’re sorry. Very, very sorry

  23. Phantos says:

    If I “like” Final Fantasy XIII, that is in spite of its’ story.

    I see the trilogy as these really weird experiments. I’m glad they tried, they’re not like every other video game out there, but I kind of hoped they’d made something that wasn’t so obtuse, repetitive and self-important.

    If nothing else, it’s still better than twelve at least.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Branding+uncontrolled controversy usually scares companies”

    Unless you are ea.

    Not related to the diecast,but I just cant resist some good ol’ fashioned ea bashing.

  25. nm says:

    Totally unrelated to diecast, but something Shamus might be interested in:


  26. If you guys ever do an episode where you talk a lot about Payday 2, I’d love to be there! I’m level 80+, I’ve played regularly with my friends for a very long time. We’ve played many a stealth run, though I’ve built my particular character for combat. There’s a lot I have to say, but I haven’t had the inspiration to write a blog post about it.

    1. Ringwraith says:

      There’s a lot of shooting.
      Always with the shooting.

  27. Thanatos Crows says:

    I really have a hard time finding Tidus annoying. He’s an outsider to the world he’s thrown into, and doesn’t quite get the way things work there. So he asks and questions the system. A lot of the time he gets into arguments by stating that something is just stupid or asking “the obvious” of if something has been tried, but everyone else just blindly believes what they’ve been told. They go about things the way they’ve always been. Untill they gradually start to see that some of the stuff they’ve taken for granted is just that stupid. Likewise Tidus himself changes his look on some things pretty quickly as he sees what they mean to people. This role as an outsider is ultimately what makes him the power that helps the people forget their fatalistic ways and actually do something by themselves.
    I see this as something of a commentary on japanese culture itself, and in a way Tidus being a tanner blonde sort of reinforces that. Sometimes outsiders can be ignorant and thus insulting, but instead of smugly punishing them for it while explaining nothing -which the church does to him- we should tell them how and why things are if they’re willing to listen. And more importantly, that japan is too rooted in it’s ways and stubborn about how things are supposed to be, and that sometimes outside influences are the only way to better the people.
    And then there’s the big twist that’s pretty angst inducing. The game would’ve been completely different if anyone had had the strenght to tell Tidus the one thing that bothered them about his carefree attitude. I see no reason to defend this bit of angst period. And the daddy issues. “My dad is satan” angst, I feel, has hardly anything to do with what the dad is, but what he was to him, and coming to terms with it, understanding why he hates his dad. The being satan part I see as convenience, as it neatly wraps the backstory and the events of the game together while also building the dad’s character and letting Tidus see it, serving as confirmation to everything he’s told about him.
    All in all, when the game came out I found Tidus annoying, but mainly because he wasn’t a wise(ned) badass like Auron. Now that I’ve poured this…thing(?) out of me I challenge someone to rewrite Shamus’s memoirs as THE STAR PLAYER OF ZANARKAND ABES! (Didn’t anyone tell you?) Oh god I can’t get the game off my head…

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I present to you a counter argument:

      John crichton,a true alien to this new world he finds himself in,ignorant of practically everything,considered dumb and annoying by everyone around him.And yet,crichton is not seen as an annoying character by the audience.Why?Because despite being ignorant,in a strange world,he is still smart,brave an loyal,willing to give his life for his friends(which he does at one point).And he also doesnt constantly whine how “things were better on my world”.And he also doesnt have an incredibly annoying fake laugh.

      So you see,its not the situation that makes a character annoying,its how the character responds to it.

      Also,farscape is awesome,you should definitely watch it.

      1. “…is awesome” for part of the series.

        I admire Farscape for being (as AICN once put it) the show that does not fear muppets, but it had a bit of a flaw in the fact that was largely being made up as they went along. I’ll also be the first to say this is the same problem for nearly all Star Trek series as well, so don’t think I’m picking on an underdog, here.

        I first saw Farscape in a marathon called “The Essential Farscape,” and I thought it was pretty good. These were all the main-arc episodes, so they seemed to have something to do with each other. Then I went back and watched the rest of the show and… Well, it really does seem like they’re letting new writers just do whatever they want with each episode regardless of how much it fits with the rest of the show. The “memory mollusks” episode sticks out in my mind as being especially awful.

        It’s got a Doctor Who vibe in that just about anything can happen for less than no reason, but they do have a tendency to add more sex, fart, and vomit jokes wherever possible.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “”…is awesome” for part of the series.”

          Well,yes,thats true for everything.There are no perfect things out there.And a show doesnt have to be preplanned to be good,nor are all preplanned episodes good automatically.

          1. No, but taking a show that’s supposed to have a central arc or direction that often seems like an afterthought isn’t usually a good formula for an ongoing series. Having some idea of certain beats the show is going to hit or a direction the story will take is better than nothing, while just throwing stuff at the wall results in a directionless mess that can’t be resolved when it’s time to draw to a conclusion (see the X-Files).

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              A story doesnt have to go for a singular conclusion.For example,homicide,life on the street.Its basically just a bunch of stories about people working in homicide.

              Or how about stories like the twilight zone?A unifying theme is just as useful connector as a story.

    2. syal says:

      Tidus is annoying because he’s arrogant and shows very little respect for anyone else. He’s the kind of guy who’s reaction to meeting the most powerful man in the world is to make fun of how he talks.

      1. Ringwraith says:

        Although that kinda fits his character of being a spoilt self-absorbed celebrity.
        Even down to his clothes, he’s clearly a fashion victim.

        1. syal says:

          It fits the character perfectly. But the character it fits is annoying.

        2. lurkey says:

          Oh oh! Lemme guess – he is that guy in yellow lederhosen with pantlegs of different length, right? Then for his fashion sense alone he deserves to be named the most annoying video game character ever. Also, imprisoned for assault and battery on everyone’s retinas.

          1. syal says:

            …maybe? That’s actually a pretty generic description when you’re talking about JRPGs.

      2. Retsam says:

        Okay, so the Tidus criticism touches off on a rant I’ve had building for awhile.

        We’re always saying we want games with more interesting protagonists, we’re tired of the same old macho man stereotypes; but then we get characters with actual human flaws and foibles like Tidus, suddenly everyone’s like “oh, but he’s ANNOYING, bring back Badass McAwesome” (and hey, in FFX defense, it had Auron for that).

        Sure, Tidus may come across as arrogant, a bit immature, self-absorbed… actually, scratch that, he IS all those things; but why should that make him a bad character? He’s a flawed character, certainly, characters are interesting because of their flaws, not despite them.

        But it seems we’re willing to tolerate flawed characters only if their flaws falls into this narrow spectrum of “flawed, but not in such a way that bothers me as the player in any way”. You can be flawed, as long as your flaws are cool, like excessive violence, or a lack of respect for authority. But man, if your laugh is a bit annoying, no dice.

        And, it’s worth pointing out that a big part of the story of FFX is Tidus growing up. The moment and his breakdown when he realizes this isn’t “his” story and all that entails is one of my favorite moments in… well any medium. And, that moment works only because Tidus has been so self-absorbed up to that point.

        If you dislike a character to the point that you just can’t possibly have a good time and it ruins the entire experience for you, sure, I guess that’s just how it is. But I submit that that might say more about you than it does the story.

        1. tmtvl says:

          ‘Scuse me, one genre where Gruff von Badass is the exception rather then the norm is the jRPG.

          Tidus is annoying to many people despite being a character with flaws, not because of it.

          He would prolly have been a nice change of pace in a FPS or other Western shooter game.

          EDIT: Your submission seems weird. People can be put of because of seemingly trivial stuff, it’s what makes everyone unique. Some people cry their eyes out when Bambi’s mother gets shot, some people don’t really care, ’cause she wasn’t an established character.

          1. NotDog says:

            “˜Scuse me, one genre where Gruff von Badass is the exception rather then the norm is the jRPG.

            One impression I’ve always had is that there are several people who hate JRPGs because they don’t have enough Gruff von Badasses.

          2. Retsam says:

            So I’m not denying people the ability to dislike the game for any reason they please; that’s just how things work. You can dislike anything for any reason, and no one can tell you your opinion is “wrong”.

            But I do think there’s a distinction to be made between “I disliked X because of Y” and “X is bad, because of Y”. The former is always valid, but the latter I think can be disputed. I’m specifically trying to dispute “FFX is bad because Tidus is annoying”. I think Tidus being annoying is pretty central to the story that they were trying to tell; nor does should an annoying character immediately make a story “bad”, so I don’t really think “Tidus is annoying” alone, is a valid criticism of the game. (But to reiterate, it’s a perfectly valid reason to dislike the game)

            This is how I am with Song of Ice and Fire. Personally, I really don’t care for Song of Ice and Fire. I could go around saying “A Song of Ice and Fire is BAD because of X, Y, and Z”, but I realize that X, Y, and Z (or maybe X, X, and X might be more accurate…) are central to the story ASOIAF was trying to tell, and are a big part of what makes the series enjoyable for the people who do like it, so I don’t. To borrow from my last post: the fact that I don’t like ASOIAF probably says more about me than it does ASOIAF.

            1. And without specifying X, Y, and Z, we’ve got nothing to go on and JRPGs still suffer from really awful characterization a lot of the time.

              How many JRPG characters seem to have gone to the Michael Bay School of Character Development? That is, they design their weapons, costumes, and powers first and then try to staple personality onto the mass of fingerless gloves, lead-paint hair, mile-long swords, and welder’s goggles they thought looked cool.

              Someone can be flawed, but there’s “flawed but I can see where he’s coming from or why he’s that way” vs. “someone whose personality makes Guy Fieri look like a well-rounded model of the ideal human psyche.”

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “oh, but he's ANNOYING, bring back Badass McAwesome”

          Thats a false dichotomy.Why cant we have more interesting characters that arent badass dudes of awesomeness but arent annoying either?You know,guys like guybrush,or larry,or rincewind,or manny calavera,or earthworm jim,or jade,or garrett(the original)…..Those are flawed characters,but they arent annoying.Flawed does not immediately equal interesting,nor does it mean annoying.

          Oh,and who says that we cant have badasses that are extremely flawed?For example walker from spec ops.There you have a classic dudebro that is really interesting and flawed to the max.

          “but why should that make him a bad character?”

          On its own,it doesnt.But,ultimately,its the presentation that matters.Compare tidus to lister from red dwarf.Or to black adder.Or to gregory house.You can easily argue that tidus is less flawed than those three,yet those three are far more entertaining.

          1. Retsam says:

            Sure, my somewhat facetious sentence about “bring back Badass McAwesome” is a bit of a false dichotomy, at least as stated; though my point was less “you can only have badasses or whiny teenagers”, but more “hey, why are we complaining so much about a character whose far more interesting than your average video game protagonist?”.

            And sure, characters like all the ones you list are great, too… but why CAN’T we have characters like Tidus, too? For all that my previous sentence may have sounded like a false dichotomy, it occurs to me that you’re the one being exclusive here, saying “Characters shouldn’t have flaws that annoy me”, not me.

            I don’t get what you mean by “presentation”. He’s “presented” as a whiny immature kid, because he is a whiny immature kid; that’s the story they were trying to tell. Saying “he could have been more like House” isn’t really relevant, because that just wasn’t the story they were trying to tell, and there’s no reason it needed to be.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              “hey, why are we complaining so much about a character whose far more interesting than your average video game protagonist?”

              Because he is a bad character.

              And you can have a character that is annoying,and spoiled,and selfish.Heck,Ive mentioned red dwarf,so look at arnold rimmer.Everyone other character hates him,he is annoying,he is selfish,conceited,downright evil at times.But he is not annoying the audience,because he is not a bad character.Heck,at times people even feel sorry for rimmer(though not often).Or how about duffy duck?Thats one despicable characters,and yet even when he comes on top,people still like him.Or homer simpson.I mean he is even likable in the frank grimes(or grimey as he liked to be called)episode.

              What syal said may be the reason as to why this is so.Rimmer is a douchebag,but at least his douchebaggery is acknowledged by the show.The other characters recognize him for what he is and react to him as the audience would to such a douchebag in real life.Same goes for every other character Ive mentioned.

              But when the story completely disregards the characters obvious flaws,when it paints him as an actual hero who can do no wrong,thats when everything breaks down and the audience hates the character.

              Thats the difference between a good presentation of an annoying character,and a bad presentation of an annoying character.

              1. Retsam says:

                I don’t think we were playing the same game if you think the game paints him as the “hero who can do no wrong” or that the other characters don’t “react to him as the audience would in real life”.

                Let’s see; the the part where he follows Yuna into the trials I remember being a pretty clear “you done messed up” moment, and presented as such, the Al Bhed aren’t tolerating much whining in the opening, Lulu pretty well dislikes him for most of the game; Auron treats him as a little kid for most of the game; even Wakka, despite the shared love for blitzball, seems to view him more as a little brother than a full-fledged member of the party.

                Yes, at no point does the dialog line occur: “You, Titus, you are a bad person because you are self-absorbed, and too whiny, and your laugh is really annoying”, because, as satisfying as that line would be for the haters, that’s not actually how mature people deal with immature people. But I think people look at the lack of such a line and say “See! The game is ignoring his character flaws!”; but it’s really not. It’s just more subtle than that.

                Again, I can’t comment on your references, because I pretty much haven’t seen a single show that you’ve referenced so far except for House (And as hilarious Gregory House as the protagonist of FFX would be, I can’t see it’s terribly relevant). Though I’d point out that every single reference you’ve made has been to a comedy (well, other than House); of course, bad characters are less annoying to the audience in comedies, because the show is constantly making fun of them, but this game isn’t a comedy.

        3. syal says:

          My biggest problem with Tidus, and one of the problems with Final Fantasy 10 in general, is that his snobbery ends up being right so often. If there was a point where his opinion turned out to be unambiguously wrong the character would be a lot more palatable. (Another issue is that it’s yet another game where you fight your father who is also you who is also a Dark God, why do these people keep doing that? And no, realizing your father became a better person doesn’t count as being unambiguously wrong, because he’s still the fricking Devil.)

          But it seems we're willing to tolerate flawed characters only if their flaws falls into this narrow spectrum of “flawed, but not in such a way that bothers me as the player in any way”.

          Would you say the same thing if the main character was Humbert Humbert? How wide does the spectrum have to go before it’s okay to start objecting to things?

          (I don’t personally object to Tidus as a character, I just see why people would. And Zidane was better anyway.)

          1. Retsam says:

            So your counter-argument to my point of “we should be more accepting of stories with flawed characters” is to compare it to a work of great literature that has a deeply flawed character? The fact that most people consider a middle-aged man being attracted to a pre-teenage girl abhorrent, but that the book still frequently shows up in “best literature” lists, I think is a pretty compelling argument for “video gamers can put up with a character who has a slightly annoying laugh”.

            1. syal says:

              You said flawed characters, not stories about flawed characters. If you take out Tidus and put in Humbert Humbert, and the rest of the story stays the same, i.e. the child molester is unambiguously the good guy, are you willing to defend it on the basis of uniqueness?

              1. Retsam says:

                I don’t think I understand the distinction you’re trying to make between “flawed characters” and “stories about flawed characters”. How do you consider a character outside of the context of their story that defines them?

                I think you’re getting hung up on the idea that FFX portrays Tidus as “unambiguously good”; which I completely disagree with. Read the first 3 paragraphs of my reply to Daemian above; since that’s where I actually address that idea.

                1. syal says:

                  There’s no point in my trying to make arguments until you answer this question. If a story features a child molester that is unambiguously the good guy, would you defend the character based on uniqueness?

                  1. Otters34 says:

                    Well Retsam is saying Final Fantasy X’s POV protagonist isn’t totally terrible, so I’d argue the situation has sunk even further than that!

                    Really though, that’s a terrible way to try and win this argument. Even worse for how exaggerated and distorted it makes the narrative you’re taking it from.

                    Tidus is a simple attempt at making a convincingly outside-perspective character, and part of making him understandable is a necessity that his unusual outlook be at least partially correct. Otherwise, if he was Wrong All the Time(even Most of the Time), you’d hate being stuck watching this ignorant ninny even more than you would be with somebody Right All the Time.

                    The protagonist/narrator of Lolita, by contrast, is NOT meant to be correct. His understanding of the world is warped by the fetishistic lens he views other people through, and his accurate judgements are more in spite of his mindset than thanks to them.

                    FFX has its share of problems, but at least the protagonists were flawed by attempts to make them interesting rather than BioWareesque “photogenic plot robots” as Naoto calls them.

                    If only you could choose who you played as, that would solve so many problems. Then players wouldn’t risk being saddled with somebody who’s annoying to have to experience the world through.

                    1. syal says:

                      Retsam started this argument with a statement that the only reason people don’t like Tidus is because they’re uncomfortable with original characters. I am not letting that inflammatory crap just slide. All the real arguments will wait until this inflammatory one has been resolved.

                      If you want to argue in Retsam’s place, same question. If a child molester is unambiguously the good guy, do you defend the character based on its uniqueness? There are three possible answers to this question; “yes”, “no”, or “it depends how the story handles them”.

                    2. Otters34 says:

                      Sure. Why not? At the very least presenting them as multi-dimensional rather than a cardboard Evil Person(you can tell, they do Bad People Things!) can do little but good.

                      But that’s an unhelpful extreme. Really, the only fictional character who that fits is, oh, Khal Drogo.

                    3. syal says:

                      So you’re assuming they’re being presented as multidimensional. I’m putting that down as “story-dependent” because I'm really tired of finagling.

                      So what story details make Khal Drogo work? It’s because the setting allows for it; by the time we meet Khal Drogo we’ve seen a man get executed for running away from a threat he had no way of facing, incest, a child getting thrown off a roof, a man selling his sister to buy an army, and a girl’s pet getting killed because it reminded someone of someone else’s pet. It’s a hostile, ugly world with hostile, ugly people, and Khal Drogo becomes a good guy by being less hostile and ugly than some of the other people.

                      Back to Final Fantasy 10. Which of the opening characters would you say are uglier or more hostile than Tidus? Up to Besaid, none of the other characters are shown as selfish; in fact, most of them are shown as going out of their way to help Tidus, who responds by ignoring their advice to reflect on his own life and his relationship to his father (Jecht might count as worse than Tidus, but Jecht isn’t actually there). The story’s introduction does not support his behavior, which means he is not a good character.

                    4. Otters34 says:

                      Don’t go finaglin’, that was a definite yes for sure. Because to say otherwise would dilute the point.

                      And no, none of that is how a person should behave, and yes it’s grating to watch. But what else is supposed to happen? For the protagonist to get over themselves and become a proper hero right from the start? With no initial friction, no signs of negative personality, nothing to make Tidus anything but a seamless, smooth-as-pearl player avatar? I suppose you could do something with that(great literature’s been written about just that), but as-is it works perfectly fine with the sort of fellow Tidus starts out as. But he doesn’t remain that way.

                      I’m a firm believer that all fictional characters should, at least partially, be responsible for their problems, and Tidus(and Yuna and Wakka and Kimarhi and Rikku and yes, even Lulu) deliver that rather handsomely because each of them has some imperfection that causes discord in their lives. It creates character drama that grounds and realizes the larger epic of Sin and Auron, and it’s far preferable to almost anything else that could have been done with the personalities and plot presented. I readily grant that Tidus’ shtick can get very, very old the third or so time he screws up and behaves like a childish jackass, but that’s not, at base, who or what he is, or at least not meant to be.

                      So at base I agree his actions and portrayal in the story ain’t too great, but I dispute that that detracts from the story itself, or makes him a bad character. And there’s really not much else I could say on the subject.

                      Why do you like Zidane?

                    5. syal says:

                      If it’s a definite ‘yes’ there’s no discussion to be had; you could make a flying mime be the main character if all you care about is having something unique.

                      Thinking about it, I think the main problem with Tidus is there are three separate stories going on in the beginning; there’s the “High School Quarterback goes to College” story that Tidus’ personality fits in, wherein the famous small-town athlete finds himself in a far more demanding world; there’s the “Wizard of Oz” vibe that Spira is introduced as, where the main character serves as the audience’s gateway to a strange new world; and there’s the “Father’s Shadow” thing on top of it. The first two inevitably converge, but it’s several hours in, long enough for the player to start hating the High School Quarterback for wanting nothing more than to go back to Kansas, when the player still wants to see Oz.

                      You can pull off the “not as big a shot as you thought” storyline and the “welcome to the new world” storyline at the same time, but the new world has to be harsher and more depressing than the old one; the High School Quarterback gets drafted and ends up in the military, where they still play football but they also knife-fight and spend days crawling through mud. But Zanarkand is barely explored before we leave it, and Spira doesn’t come off as harsh enough for that; in fact it’s got a pretty solid “Tropical Paradise” vibe going for it, which makes Tidus’ flat rejection of it and his obsession with the familiar all the more grating. And everything up to Luca is Tidus focusing on what’s familiar, i.e. Blitzball. He doesn’t ask questions about anything he can avoid knowing, but he starts a team rivalry with the other Blitzball team because he’s a High School Quarterback and that’s the thing for him to do. And then all of Luca is about this stupid tournament rivalry, and I’m pretty sure the vapidity of that whole section is why people hate the laughing scene so much; they assume it’s just as vapid as what came before it.

                      It stops becoming a problem when you get far enough into the story, because eventually the High School Quarterback and the Stranger in a New World characters both inevitably evolve into the same New World Veteran, but now the player wants Tidus to suffer because he’s been a selfish jerk who’s done a bad job of introducing Spira. But he never does; the closest thing to a consequence Tidus suffers is if you get Gatta killed, but it’s hollow because someone’s gonna die there anyway.

                      I like Zidane because his goofy energy fits his world.

                    6. Otters34 says:

                      I agree wholeheartedly. He can be downright charming.

                    7. syal says:

                      And thinking about it a little more, I think Zidane is almost the antithesis of Tidus. Tidus is a new face in the world, and all of his companions are walking him through it; if a question comes up, everybody else knows the answer to it. But Zidane is the only starting party member that feels like he’s competent at drifting the world, and sort of acts as the tour guide for Vivi, Dagger and Steiner, who are all various degrees of out of place outside of Alexandria. Tidus is Dorothy (and it’s hard to give Dorothy a likable personality outside of wide-eyed wonder), while Zidane is the Good Witch of the North.

                      …and now I want to do some kind of write-up about the themes of all the Final Fantasy games (up to 10, I stopped playing them when 11 was an MMO).

                      Might as well throw in that Squall is great (probably accidentally) because he’s got a chronic resignation to dealing with his world. And then you meet Zell and Selphie and Rinoa and Irvine, and Quistis gets dumber, and you go “yep, I can totally see that attitude when your life is spent around these guys.” (Best part of 8, paraphrased: Irvine: “We have to save Rinoa!” Squall: “No, we don’t.”)

  28. Phantos says:

    Regardless of the failings of XIII, I still think Sazh Katzroy is the best thing to happen to the franchise. Maybe that’s why I can’t bring myself to hate it outright.

    A middle-aged, sensible POC single father. Not something a lot of games, let alone JRPGS have the guts to even attempt, and in a game full of baffling dialogue, he usually seemed to me like the most natural part of the game world.

    1. Henson says:

      Including the bird in his hair?

      1. Phantos says:

        Oh yeah, the one who turns out to be a shape-shifting lady in a bird bikini who’s clinically insane.

        Because… Final Fantasy.

    2. Blake says:

      He was definitely under utilised in the sequels as his story didn’t really cross over with Serahs (who plays MacGuffin in games 1 and 3 and protagonist in 2).

      He was certainly my favourite in game 1.

      1. Ringwraith says:

        Also the excellent scene where after watching his son be frozen and taken away in front of his eyes, possibly to never see him again, he rapidly flips between intense anger at the person initially responsible for his son’s current state and himself.

        1. Phantos says:

          “Lightning Returns” has a pretty good scene of him that’s silly and stupid and heartfelt and I love it to bits.

          Reminds me how much you can get away with in a story if you just make the characters likable enough.

  29. evileeyore says:

    No one plays Druids?

    I played every Diablo 1 and 2 character all the way through.

    My fav was Barbarian though.

  30. Zukhramm says:

    Final Fantasy XIII is the best game. FF13 for next season of Spoiler Warning pls. I’m buying it on Steam as we speak!!

    1. NotDog says:

      I’d nominate this just to see everyone have a meltdown in the comments.

  31. ET says:

    I finally finished the video/presentation on a new language for game development! I’m in favor of pretty much everything he outlines in his video, especially the part(s) where he says we need to pick language features for the good programmers, not the average or poor programmers. My feeling is that, when you pick features to help the better programmers avoid (their) common mistakes, you’re also going to help out the novice programmers. The features of other languages he described as trying to help novice programmers, seem to do so at the expense of a lot of productivity, and…cludginess? Like, those languages have verbose syntax, and a lot of boilerplate stuff you need to go through, just because you’re trying to help with certain types of mistakes. But if you just tried to help the better programmers with their mistakes, the novices would be helped too! Kind of seems like multiplayer game balance to me – balance your game for the pros, and the novices will either be unaffected by the changes, or be helped.

    I’m also a big fan of all the syntactic changes he proposes, which at first seem like minor things, but which would help a lot with readability, code size, etc, when multiplied by a large project. For example:

    int monster_positions[][]

    Why is the name of this thing in the middle of its type? (a 2D array of integers) It ought to be:

    int[][] monster_positions

    He’s got a lot of small clean-ups like that, which would make his hypothetical language a lot easier to read, and harder to make mistakes in.

    The thing that I noticed while listening to his presentation, is that most if not all of these changes, would make a language which is not only good for game development, but good for all types of development. Like, lots of things in the C-like languages are little things, which make your readability, productivity, etc die the death of a thousand cuts! Time to make a better language! :)

    1. harborpirate says:

      I like the proposals because most of them focus on something I think many language designers have largely ignored: being productive.

      That’s really the #1 thing that I want from a new language. Not big ideas like “lets end buffer overflows forever”, or “we’ll be totally functional, but with better syntax than scheme”.

      The language I’m sticking with at the moment is C#, because so far in my experience it has the most “productivity friendly” features of any language (it doesn’t hurt that it is also popular and pays well). Since I’m not a game developer, I don’t need to be as close to the bare metal as what Mr. Blow is proposing.

      However, that said, if the proposed language did exist, you can bet I would be trying it.

      Things I’m most interested in:
      Native support for multiple returns from a method (seriously, why don’t we have this???)
      Dropping exceptions completely (I rarely see them used properly in production projects, so they end up being useless clutter, or worse: they’re used to swallow errors entirely)
      Getting rid of stupid boilerplate code (I hate writing this stuff; the language needs to get out of my way and let me write what they actually pay me for)

    2. kdansky says:

      His proposals make sense for game development: D pretty much covers them all word by word. He dismisses it by saying “it’s too close to C++”, which is a non-argument.

      Apart from the lack of libraries for D for game development, it’s a breeze to work for high performance environments. You get optional (but simple) manual memory management, a super fast compiler, great overall performance, and modern syntax.

  32. Blake says:

    Thoughts on FFXIII.
    Most games can’t keep my attention for more than 5 or so hours, somehow FFXIII managed it. The 20 hour tutorial section is completely baffling, but I actually really dug the story once it all started to come together, and loved the combat system. It was one that rewarded you for dispatching enemies quickly, learning its intricacies, experimenting with builds and so on.
    The open world part, while fun enough, possibly decreased my overall fun as it had become a game of progression and flying from one thing to the next.
    Very much a showpiece game over a choose your own adventure (which I wouldn’t normally play but somehow thoroughly enjoyed and couldn’t put down until I beat it).

    FFXIII-2 I think is amazing, they went from super linear game 1 to super non-linear game 2 where right from the start you had to work to keep unlocking different time zones for the same places, learning so much about the world and its history, opening up all kinds of alternate endings, finding secrets everywhere and a canonical ending that absolutely floored me.
    FFXIII also had 6 party members where FFXIII-2 had 2 plus a monster (you could basically use any monster in the game as a pokemon, leveling them up, making them stronger, etc.), but the battle system was still quite similar to XXIII with a big focus on working out what paradigm to use over what individual skills.

    FFXIII-3 dropped to 1 party member, still with 3 roles you could switch between (each with their own cooldown timers), but with your chosen skills mapped to the face buttons so you basically had 12 skills to be dealing with at any point in time.
    FFXIII-3 had you on a permanent clock, with a limited time to win the game, most of your time was spent in towns completing missions for townsfolk that could only be done between certain hours, and was basically based in the final days of the world with you trying to save whoever you could from the inevitable.
    Really interesting story, very high replayability, and a good conclusion to the story (which stayed in my head for quite a while afterwards).

    So basically what I’m saying is: Josh, when you’re done with XIII, the sequels are definitely worth trying out, the stories, while certainly related, are entirely their own, and the evolution of the gameplay mechanics is really interesting.

    1. Kathryn says:

      I was coming here to say basically this. If someone had described XIII to me, I would have said HAAAAAAAATE, but I ended up liking it. I enjoyed combat because I could focus on strategy and let the AI run tactics. (Instead of having to say, “ok Lulu, this guy is weak against fire, so cast Fira,” on every single turn, I could just say once at the beginning of combat, “ok Vanille, be a black mage,” and [once we knew a given monster was weak against fire] she would cast her best fire-based skills on her own.) (This did not simplify combat as much as you may be thinking. Handling strategy still required a lot of input even into the endgame, and not just against bosses and marks, either.)

      I liked XIII-2 as well, but for different reasons than XIII. And I liked XIII-3 for different reasons than either of the first two. I agree the ending was a good conclusion to the story (except that I felt VERY strongly that the Hope that was freed from Bhunivelze should have been Adult Hope from XIII-2, not Young Teen Hope from XIII. My feelings on this may or may not have been influenced by my being a total Lightning/Hope shipper).

      Anyway, overall, I can definitely see why other people would dislike it, but I’m glad I stuck with XIII despite the early feeling of being trapped in tutorial/cutscene hell forever.

  33. thebob288 says:

    I just want to say that while I commented last week about missing the original theme I do think the themes you’ve been using are interesting and it would be neat if you did a series of posts where you just put up the intros you create and talk about them even if they aren’t actually attached to a show. It definitely seems like something you enjoy.

  34. Flammarion says:

    On Apocalypse World, it’s a beautifully streamlined system, which encourages player behavior through mechanical reinforcement, but I wonder if you’ve seen the amazing re purposing of the system that is Monster Hearts, the high-school monster romance game. If not I’d highly recommend checking it out.

  35. Zak McKracken says:

    Those things you say about Diablo III compared to Diablo II were pretty accurately the reasons I liked Diablo I over II (which I didn’t touch after the first playthrough): the first one had this very dense threatening atmosphere that was new at the time and nailed me to the computer way past bedtime.
    Partly it was just the (256 colour) graphics having to fade to solid black at the edges, and dithering half-shadows: Was that movement in the half-dark an enemy, or did only the dithering pattern shift? The story was ephemeral but I didn’t care much. Towards the last levels the music became ever darker, with sound effects mixed in, so you never new if you just heard an enemy or the music. Also, while most foes were easy to deal with, some weren’t, and no enemy drove that home as well as the Butcher.
    I had been warned (and there was a good deal of foreshadowing), but when I first entered his room (unknowingly) and for the first time (at 3 a.m., alone, in a dark room) heard an enemy character speak, off-screen… that “ahh, fresh blood” made me jump up from my seat. He then obliterated me, in a bad way. These kinds of moments happened, not often enough to discourage me, but I was kept on my toes, and that feeling I got hooked on.

    Compared to that, Diablo II was just kill, loot, equip, sell, repeat. Only the video sequences, which were of course gorgeous, made me play it through. Apart from that, it quickly became just this mechanical thing that tries to lure me with ever more loot, which held no real appeal for me. Friends kept obsessing over items and XP and combinations but that dimension was mostly lost on me, as it was just a numbers game (you level up, the enemies level up, too… what’s the use?)
    My impression is that Diablo III is the logical continuation of that development, so I didn’t even bother looking.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its aah,fresh meat./geek nitpick

      As for diablo 3,the main problem with it is that it “gets good 20 hours in”.Seriously,the whole game on the easiest difficulty is just like an extended tutorial.No threat,no good loot,no ability swapping.Only once you kill diablo for the first time do you get the option to actually customize your powers,you get the taste of good loot and you get enemies that can slaughter you in a single hit(oddly enough,the bosses are still pushovers,even on the highest difficulty).

  36. Blovsk says:

    FWIW, not a fan of Joypuke. Liked the theme for last week.

  37. Michael says:

    I tried playing Diablo 2, but I couldn’t get into it. The main reason was that I hate the PC controls. I played Diablo 3 on PC and hated it. Played it on console and loved it. Maybe there’s a mod that let’s you play with an XBox controller?
    A minor nitpick is that the first part of the game is really ugly. The ground, which takes up 90% of the screen, is an awful green-brown mess.

  38. RCN says:

    I’ve met a total of 3 female D&D players. ALL of them made an elven druid with a wolf companion. There might be some truth to that stereotype. (And believe me, for two of them we didn’t even tell them it was a possibility, showing only the easy and simple classes, and yet they turned the page on the druid and lingered there).

    As for Diablo 2, I always liked the Overlord Necromancer. I know this sounds lazy, but I always like games where you can make your own help and then just offer support. In Dark Age of Camelot I played as a Cabalist, in World of Warcraft I was a Warlock, in City of Heroes I was a Mastermind (City of Villains, really), and so on. I’ve even had quite a bit of fun playing full-on conjurer in D&D (it lasted until the GM remembered NPCs can use Protection From [ALIGNMENT] as well, making too many summons is a sure way to make a GM groan). Plus, there’s some glee in being the boss while your underlings do all the dirty work and you mostly supervise.

    1. Perhaps the ones you met want characters whose goals/lives aren’t already pretty much defined by the rules from the get-go and aren’t often represented in fantasy tales outside of utilitarian characters put in because someone needed to be good with plants to aid the heroes for one scene?

      Druid is one of those classes that has magic and (unless the GM is particular) no higher power to define their outlook other than “nature.” It’s a pretty compelling class and could seem nicely escapist to someone from our world where the most natural environment we come in contact with is a national park.

      From a purely medieval standpoint, druids should be pretty bad-ass and probably should be more distrusted than wizards. It wasn’t always the case that black was the color of the bad guy or that green symbolized life or hope in religion. Green, the color of the deep, dark forest was the color of bad stuff that could happen to you (and often did), which is why the old story is called “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”

  39. James Porter says:

    Ya know, i’ve never played any of the Diablo games, but I find it interesting how everything you guys brought up, are the things a love about the first Dark Souls. It really makes me so sad that you guys mostly hate that game. I’ve really been starving to an analytical study of that game. Just makes me sad. Dont suppose Chris would ever do a video on it either.

    1. SlothfulCobra says:

      Yeah, I know Diablo is probably a bit less action-y than Dark Souls, but everything they described just screamed Dark Souls, right down to Rutskarn talking about what he liked about the atmosphere of the game.

      Shamus you should totally play Dark Souls, at least up to a point where you get stuck.

      1. RCN says:

        He’s said time and again that he will not because Dark Souls is very much a “Do it again, stupid!” game. Even though every death is your own fault, the first time you’re always caught off-guard. And then you have to make a huge trek back to where you were from the checkpoint, killing ALL enemies you’d already killed to get there. That is right there a big no-no to Shamus.

  40. Chris says:

    Hrm, among my female-friends and myself there have been no Druid characters. Rogues and clerics feel like the trend. Then again my first D&D character was a Drow warrior who went insane upon finding herself trapped on the surface. Thanks to the magic of THACO she was the most useless character in the party, consistently.

    I’m actually scared to admit that I quit Diablo 2 in favor of the game Nox (by EA-destroyed-game-maker Westwood). Nox had a passable warrior class, an interesting conjurer (ie druid) class, and a wizard class that really perfectly encapsulated the term glass cannon. The classes each had pretty much their own separate storylines, and the magic system was tremendously versatile and fun. Especially fun when going up against magic users who would use invisibility and elemental magic to completely wreck the player. And the female necromancer antagonist is pretty funny. (..really too bad that it is impossible to find this game for sale without the copywrite-protection software on the discs rendering it inoperable.) Wish I had been able to try out the multiplayer on the game before losing the game discs during a move…

    1. Bryan says:

      …Nox? Do you mean the Nox that GoG has here, DRM-free? :-P

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