Diecast #90: Secret World, Batman, Destiny

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 26, 2015

Filed under: Diecast 115 comments

“This week, let’s plow through the backlog of mailbag questions,” I said. Everyone agreed this was a good idea. And then over an hour later we’d managed to cover two.

Direct link to this episode.

Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Chris, and Rutskarn.

Show notes:

2:00 Rutskarn has played The Secret World. For some reason.

Here is the comic I mentioned: The Critical Miss Guide to Dressing Like an Adult.

We also talk about The Elder Scrolls Online going free-to-play.

16:00 Shamus is playing Batman: Arkham City. Again.

In this anecdote, I sort of jumbled my Arkham Asylum and Arkham City memories all together.

27:00 Campster is at MAGFEST.

36:00 Josh is playing Destiny

I cut a good five minutes of show where we ranted about cable internet providers while I was experiencing 30-second lag. It sounds funny, but it was actually just really confusing and annoying and filled with lots of awkward pauses.


Dear the Diecast,

How important do you think that the name of a game is? Are there any great games that were crippled by terrible names? And can you think of some awful games which sounded cool because of there name.

Also which Sci-Fi franchise fans has Chris not annoyed yet? I still have fond memories of Blakes Seven if he wants to have a pop at that.



We didn’t answer the second half of the question, but I’ll answer it now. I watched Blake’s Seven as it was shown in bits and pieces on PBSIn the USA, PBS is sponsored by government grants and private donations, with no commercials. It’s where all the “arty” stuff ends up. And also BBC shows. in the 80’s. The show seemed to be heavy on continuity, so watching the episodes at random was a terrible way to experience the show. All I remember is that there weren’t seven characters and none of them were named Blake.

56:00 We stop Josh from trolling us with more cooking advice by doing another email.

My favorite part of open world games is their emergent nature. Everyone seems to have a story of something crazy or funny or cinematic that happened to them while playing that was never scripted.

Do any of you have a favorite emergent game play story?

Keep up the good work.


Here is the GTA V animation I was talking about.



[1] In the USA, PBS is sponsored by government grants and private donations, with no commercials. It’s where all the “arty” stuff ends up. And also BBC shows.

From The Archives:

115 thoughts on “Diecast #90: Secret World, Batman, Destiny

  1. Benjamin Hilton says:

    On the subject of names making a bad game sound cool, I find that can also hold true for trailers.

    Case in point, the Secret World trailers were amazing, and promised a game we clearly did not get.

    Also hearing Kamen reminded me of what I forgot to ask with my mailbag question: Why no Aunty Paladin this year? What’s the Haps?

    1. Taellosse says:

      My first exposure to Secret World was at PAX East – they had a huge booth with giant screens outside it, showing some of the preview trailers, and it looked really cool. Then I looked into it and discovered it was going to be an MMO, and I had a sad and largely stopped paying attention to it.

      1. Alin says:

        It’s a B2P MMO though, and apparently has a good story -YMMV as always with video game stories – and non violent gameplay. So it’s at least not as bad as sub or F2P MMOs.

    2. Otters34 says:

      I Am Not A Rutskarn, so take this with some salt, but apparently other people were busy, he was getting resettled at a new place, and there just wasn’t time to sit down and play tabletop games until everyone fell unconscious.

      1. Benjamin Hilton says:

        That’s understandable, but still sad. It’s always fun chatting with Twenty Sided regulars while watching, and they raise a good amount of money too.

  2. Steve C says:

    On game names- Warframe. Terribly stupid awful name. Good game though.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Aye, it’s not the best name – but I can think of worse! I mean, there’s Wargasm; Warface; Warfighter

      And those are just the ones starting with W-A-R!

      PS Haven’t listened to the ‘Cast yet, so they may have mentioned this, but I can imagine Grey Goo might lose some potential sales due to name-choice. Doesn’t exact scream ‘RTS’, does it? (I get why they called it that, but it’s a little bit like, I dunno, making a space-sim set in the far-future where you’re searching for a lost radioactive Earth, and calling it Psychohistory.)

      1. Your description of Psychohistory with my recollection of the specific Asimov novel with that particular quest in it makes me think it wouldn’t be so much an RTS as a kind of dating sim with sci-fi overtones.

      2. Tizzy says:

        Actually, both Wargasm, and one you left off, Warfair, are titles… … of songs! Not very militaristic songs, btw, in case you hadn’t guessed already.

      3. Alex says:

        Grey Goo is either a great game or a bad name. If you know science fiction it’s an intriguing title – you want to know what this game is that’s named after a very SF form of apocalypse. If you don’t know science fiction enough to recognise what “Grey Goo” is, probably not.

        1. Mephane says:

          You know what the best thing about Grey Goo (the game) is? That you can actually play as the grey goo, not just fight them in yet another incarnation of “us vs them”. The worst thing about the game is that it’s an RTS, because I would love the play a game about grey goo, as the grey goo, but I am terrible at RTS and don’t enjoy them for long.

        2. Felblood says:

          Grey Goo is a stupid name because even if you know what it means, it doesn’t tell you anything useful about the game.

          This game is marketed to people who are exactly nerdy enough to recognize the reference, but not quite nerdy enough to realize that it’s a pretty weak reference.

          This thing came up on my Steam last night and I read the title, looked at the promo image, and read about 1 sentence of description before writing it off.

          This is not a successful attempt at marketing a product; in a near-saturated indie game market the consumer expects more.

        3. Tektotherriggen says:

          The Grey Goo trailer (at least the one I keep seeing on the Escapist) is dreadful too. It starts with one of those cheapo “static images sliding over each other” scenes, like in sidebar Flash ads for free-to-play games. But then the rest of the trailer is very expensive-looking CGI staring some alien explorers, which looks cool but gives absolutely no idea what gameplay genre it is.

          And there’s about 2 seconds of actual humans on a spaceship bridge, that look like they’re from a different game altogether. Are humans fighting those aliens, are they allies, or are humans just discovering something that happened thousands of years ago? Because I have no idea, and no desire to find out.

  3. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I can relate about Transistor. I started playing it and I felt that “I want to play something familiar that I like” feeling. Its got neat music (not hitting me quite the way it seems to with others but I like it and I can see why people rave about it) and its pretty in much the same way that Bastion was. And frankly that and exploring some of the power combos kept me playing as long as I did. I struggle reading text on a screen in the evenings after a day spent reading text intently on a screen at work so its a chore to keep up with games that are text heavy so I kind of lost momentum and about that time I figured out what was wrong with my Fallout 3 install so I finally got to play that instead.

    With regards to Arkham City, I really like that approach to game design where if you’re a noob, you can get by and accomplish basic objectives but your reward for gaining mastery is looking and feeling progressively more awesome. Its especially appropriate for a Batman game where the usual sort of game difficulty would undermine the experience of being Batman until you got really good at it. I find that its these types of games that I actually play enough to get good at (and if the gameplay is fun). Does the game need me to be able to remain continuously aerial from one end of the map to the other? No. But I really like being aerial so i push myself to get good at power grapneling and gliding.

    1. Warrax the Chaos Warrior says:

      I really want to play and enjoy Transistor, but it just isn’t hooking me. It’s beautiful and I want to explore the world, but early on it feels like its moving at a glacial pace and the combat hasn’t “clicked” for me. So I dread the combat, and the narrative is so slow and low-key that there isn’t much else to pull me along.

      I feel like I should force myself through the beginning part to get to a point where the fights start to get fun, but I really hate forcing myself through games.

      1. CJ Kerr says:

        I thought I was the only one….I’m sure I’ll love it, but I stalled about an hour in and haven’t gone back

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yeah,the combat is problematic in that while it is so varied and can suit everyones style,it takes up too much time to find the one you like.Its not helped by the fact that you get powers one at a time,and you dont know how any of them plays before you try them out in every slot,meaning you have to go though three combats for each power in order to see where it would fit best.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          From what I’ve heard, this game is meant to be replayed so it might be that they’re hoping the depth will hold for that long. So even if you haven’t arrived at your most preferred combo set at the end of the first game, you still have a replay to finish that up.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            By the time you get to replay it,you should already have a few combos you like.It builds up by giving you all the things you have once again,so you can have even crazier stuff,put a liked program into two slots(or into itself),and you get the meanest of limiters.

  4. Robyrt says:

    Counterexample to awful names: Demon’s Souls. The awkward double S, the grammatical error (it should be “Demons’ Souls”, and the in-game narration calls it “Demon Souls”), and it… well… didn’t sell any copies until critics started writing glowing retrospectives a year later. Yeah, I guess you’re right.

  5. Steve C says:

    At least you guys are getting focused $1000 off coupons. On every pizza box was a $1000 off coupon for a mortgage. This was blanket advertising. Everyone who bought a $6 pizza got a $1000 off coupon.

  6. Eschatos says:

    I thought your perspective on Dark Souls vs Arkham difficulty was interesting, Shamus. At the same time though, the Souls series does offer adaptive difficulty through its co-op mechanics. It is entirely possible to go through virtually the entire game with two allies(friends or random strangers), which vastly lowers the difficulty if you have some patience to wait for summon signs to show up. While playing nothing but co-op is a bit extreme of an option, I’ve always appreciated the ability to summon a helper or two for when I get stuck on a boss or in a tough area. Alternately, it’s highly possible to alter your play experience through which weapons to use. This does take prior knowledge from forums or wikis, but weapons like the Drake Sword in Dark Souls 1(easily attainable early on and extremely powerful for half the game) can make the game a good bit easier. Not quite as simple as a difficulty slider, but it’s something.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Well, that just leaves my difficulty. Why would I ever want to strive to do anything within that world? Its such an incredibly dark and bleak world filled with death and shambling piles of skulls and monsters and apparently everybody is dead and the world is just waiting to die or something (I’ve heard you can “save” it but you’re just forestalling the inevitable).

      Why would I want to darkdeath my way around grimdarkdeathworld filled with death and grimdeath and darkgrimdeathdemons of doomydeath? To achieve a state of slightly less deadness? And why would I want to learn the history of a world that doesn’t matter anymore?

      EDIT: Oh and you can go to Hell from what I hear, you know, if you’re looking for a change of pace. Going from grim deadness to blind screaming agony of torment.

      1. Cinebeast says:

        To be fair, that sort of grimdarkness really does it for some people. Grimdarkness is pretty popular in general, it seems, going by some of the best rated games and television, such as Game of Thrones and The Witcher series. Some people just love a tragedy.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Guilty confession time, I’ve only played a tiny bit of Witcher, only seen a little bit of Game of Thrones (mainly because its the only thing on HBO I’d watch and I’m not going to pay premium subscription for that) and only experienced part of the opening cinematic for Dark Souls in addition to seeing a bunch of reviews and analyses. But Dark Souls seems like its got Witcher and Game of Thrones beat in the hopeless grim darkness of death thing by a country mile.

          Maybe I’m supposed to be ok with the world falling apart because I and everyone I ever knew and loved is already dead? There is a certain freedom in that that I first got a taste of in the Fallout series. But this doesn’t look like a Cozy Catastrophe

          Witcher doesn’t strike me as utterly hopeless. It seems to be about in that Dragon Age 2 space of messy morality on all sides and a “hero” who’s just sort of in it to do what he does.

          Game of Thrones? Maybe its dark but at least I’m not having to master frustratingly difficult gameplay in hopes of being rewarded with even more realms of bleakness to explore and be savaged by. I’m not that metal.

          1. Can I just say I love TVTropes.org’s new layout? It’s not only a lot easier to use on my PC, my clunky old smartphone likes it MUCH better than the old site.

            1. Felblood says:

              You can, but I still get to say that I hate it.

              I don’t own a mobile, and the redesign seems much more interested in pushing the social aspects of the site.

              I can see why they are doing that from a community management and money-making perspective, but it’s just not as friendly for people who want to pop in and read, or play 6 degrees to MLP.

              It does look slightly less cheap, but I wonder why the improvement isn’t more significant, for the amount of effort they clearly invested.

              1. Really? I only see the same amount of ads, but more put towards the bottom, and they cleaned up the left sidebar a ton. I’m guessing they recoded the menus for navigating the topics, which makes for an easier time, at least for me.

          2. Mr Compassionate says:

            Grimdarkness usually has an air of trying too hard, a teenage high school scrapbook “skulls and demons and s**t” sillyness that I don’t like (see Darksiders 1 and 2 for example).

            But Dark Souls doesn’t feel like that it feels kind of… adult? I suppose? It’s like grimdarkness for adults basically. The world it presents is fascinating on so many levels and I think your argument of “but if the world is going to end why should I care about it?” is born mostly from the perspective of somebody thinking about it in real world terms. The world of Dark Souls is so alien and unlike ours that concepts like “End” and “Evil” and “Darkness” don’t mean the same things as the real world.

            In the world of Dark Souls the lights are going out, as well are the bonfires. The Age of Fire will end and the Age of Dark will begin. However the Age of Dark is also going to be the age of Humanity, where mankind will prosper. Is that good? Is that bad? Is it TRUE? Kaath isn’t the most trustworthy creature, can you gamble the fate of the world on the words of Darkstalker Kaath, who says he knew the being that begat you, or believe only what you see before you?

            Is Dark, The Abyss and Humanity evil? Is Gwyn? All Gwyn wants is to coddle the flame that begat his age of supremacy, even if he has to defy the laws of nature. Is that bad, or as a human does that make him your enemy? Is there an age beyond the Age of Dark? The age before the age of light was like an apocalypse yet now life is running amok, so is the Dark truly an apocalypse?

            The world of Dark Souls is certainly hopeless but at the same time it’s full of very interesting, unanswerable questions that run around in your head while playing. Unlike EVERY other RPG fantasy game you aren’t here to “save the world” and get told you are such a cool guy. You’re here to explore and decide what you believe. In a way you are right, in Dark Souls you are certainly not going to save a great big happy world from objective evil. In the world of Dark Souls everything is evil and everything is good. The motivations of the vast majority of the characters are good and honest and most of the characters you meet are not there to be a**holes, they’re just making their way through the world, just like the player. It’s not pitch black grimdark. To ignore it just because it doesn’t immediately present you with a world of amicable farmers and adoring onlookers is a tad presumptuous (no offence) especially when characters like Solaire are not uncommon. This isn’t a doomed world it’s just messy and not often pleasant, much like reality.

            Edit: Although it’s worth mentioning I totally understand if something about it rubbed you up the wrong way. It’s certainly not for everybody and that’s to be expected, Shamus is right in that the game is a bit too “f**k you player” right out the gate both gameplay and story wise. It just bombards you with death and doom and expects you to dig past that (painfully) until it starts to brighten up a bit which is kind of a failure of the designers in my opinion. Demon’s Souls is much better at leading players in (though not quite as good a game). Dark Souls is always going to be one of those things where people who got into it will insist that everybody else like it because they can’t understand why somebody *wouldn’t* like it, even though they personally swore by all the gods to never play the game again at least 20 times.

            Also people who managed to complete it are basically clinically insane. It’s infuriatingly self-satisfied people like myself who think that Dwarf Fortress is something to “dip into” and “a good podcast game” who really get attached to Dark Souls then berate people for not accepting everything about it off the bat.

            1. Trix2000 says:

              A lot of this rings true to my experience with the game – I’d always had the expectation that it would be dark, gritty, and bad everywhere… but when I got in there I couldn’t help but notice how nice everything looked. There are some truly interesting zones in there, and a lot of variety that flows together really well.

              And indeed, despite how much the situation sucks it never really felt THAT bad. Oppressive, sure, but with that feeling of “It might be hard, but I CAN overcome this if I try!” That hope, tempered as it was by the challenges placed on the way, kept me invested in progressing all the way to the end.

              And honestly, I think the difficultly is quite overplayed… though obviously YMMV on that depending on how well you take to the mechanics. But personally I ran into very few true roadblocks – I died plenty, but there wasn’t a time when I got truly frustrated (otherwise I’d have dropped it). Instead I felt compelled to get up and try again, armed with knowledge from what I did wrong on the previous attempt.

              (And for some context, I’m not usually one to like really difficult stuff – nothing bothers me more than feeling like I’m beating my head against a wall)

              But I will say that a lot of getting to that experience requires passing the initial hump – whether it’s in terms of skill level or recognizing what the game expects from you. I tend to play games very cautiously to begin with, so I think it helped that I started right off the bat moving slow expecting traps around every corner. But not everyone’s going to be like that, and not everyone likes to shift their playstyle so radically. So it’s not at all unreasonable to be turned away from it.

              It is definitely a hard game. It is definitely a dark game. But it is also both hopeful AND conquerable.

        2. Galad says:

          At least in the case of Game of Thrones, I don’t think it really has to do with grimdarkness as much as it has to do with people being somewhat worn out on the Tolkien-esque fantasy of the good heroes vs the big bad evil force that will wipe out the world we don’t know it if it is not stopped, and want some nuances.

          Also, hot actresses naked on prime time TV, I guess. Not that this is my motivation for watching GoT.

          1. Otters34 says:

            See, you write that, and all I can think of are the one-note Others and Jon Snow’s hilariously miraculous journey through Wildling lands where he manages to hit every YA fantasy hero trope with only a vague veneer of “No, but really, Reality is Happening”. Oh, they’re definitely the exception, but they put everything else into sharp contrast.

            See, I’ve realized that all the people with, like, nuance, as in anyone not named Davos Seaworth, Samwisewell Tarly, Jon Snow, Brandon Stark, Danaerys Targaryan, etc, are basically fodder. They don’t matter. Nothing they have done has affected the actual plot going on outside the kingmaking, assassinating shenanigans that make up the backstory for the real, actual plot of the terrible winter and the return of magic. Their job in the story is glorified stage hands setting up the motivations for the accursedly shallow main players.

            Yes, there is nuance in A Song if Ice and Fire, but it’s all in the service of something staggeringly black and white.

      2. IFS says:

        Dark Souls at its core is a story about mortality, if you can’t get into that then it’s not going to be for you I suppose. For me a big part of what sets it apart from other dark fantasy stories is that it represents a dying world set up in what I would call a mythological fashion. Reading up on its lore is for me quite a bit like reading up on Ragnarok, figures in the lore feel like figures out of myth and legend and a good part of the enjoyment of the story for me is piecing together how everything reached the point that it’s at. The world, lore, and story and so on all works to create a pervasive atmosphere and yes that atmosphere is generally gloomy but that serves to heighten the moments of beauty that the game has (and it does have them, ask any Souls player about that first vision of Anor Londo for the biggest example in the game). The ‘grimdark’ is not there purely for the sake of grimdark but rather because it serves a purpose key to the game. As for the endings they are very much open to interpretation as is the rest of the game, and you can view one as forestalling the inevitable and the other as destroying the world, but you could also view one as clinging to an age that should be allowed to end and the other as accepting the end of that age and entering the next one.

        As for why you would want to explore this world I can’t really answer that for you because I don’t know what you play games for. Personally I enjoy exploration and the challenges of the combat in Dark Souls; and for me the game fuels that desire for exploration through both discovering the strange and mysterious world as well as piecing together the lore and interpreting it. The fact that the game is very atmospheric helps me to get immersed in it and makes exploration much more enjoyable.

        As for ‘going to hell’ as it were there is a set of areas of the game that is full of lava and demons, and is very obviously inspired by the popular ‘fire and brimstone hell’ but it’s not exactly hell in the traditional sense. There are a few tormented souls there but you’d have to read into the lore to figure that out as they aren’t exactly screaming about it.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          See what I’ve heard about the combat sounds like fun and I’m generally up for exploring a world if its got something in it that grabs me or makes me care (and there’s none of that here because its all dead and existing in this world sucks). If you just drop me in a world and say “explore” I might be inclined to say “why” at first, but if you give me an activity or two so that I get settled in and start to form some attachment to the world then I’ll keep coming back and I will go off and explore on my own.

          I fired up Dark Souls once (and then again just now), saw the cutscene with the giant pile of skulls stomping around and agonized corpses in the hell pit and the curse of death and blight and some other curse of gloom and darkness (who cares? It was bad. It wasn’t a fun curse). You say its about mortality but everything is already dead. This isn’t about confronting mortality so much as it is about stumbling across a random stranger’s grave, wondering how the person therein died and digging them up to perform an autopsy yourself out of sheer curiosity.

          Clearly there’s something there for you but especially after going back and watching that opening cinematic again, I feel assured knowing there’s nothing here for me. I’m not missing out. It wouldn’t be a rewarding experience for me.

          1. Trix2000 says:

            Dead? I WISH everything was dead… it’s make traversing things like Sen’s Fortress that much easier.

            I mean heck, there’s a pair of forest-y zones to explore too (and probably better examples I’m forgetting because it’s been a while since my playthrough). Things might be a bit bleak, but it’s certainly not a dead world by any sense.

  7. Sydney says:

    I’ve always said Pokémon was a poor choice of name. The hard-to-type accented ‘e’ is a problem, the awkward proper pronunciation leads to hardcore fans getting irate, and it’s just too prone to mockery by deliberate mispronunciation by everyone.

    It also gives no idea what the game is about. ‘Pocket Monsters’ would have been just fine.

    1. Joseph P. Tallylicker says:

      HAH! AZERTY master race!

      having to remap controls with every game install kind of sucks tough :(

      1. Canthros says:

        I touch-type Dvorak.

        At work, I use a blank keyboard. (At home, I need one printed with QWERTY to figure out which key some games want me to press.)

        Windows games have gotten a lot better about detecting keyboard layouts and working from scancodes or something, though.

    2. Matt Downie says:

      I think you’ll find it’s pronounced ‘Pacman’. It’s about a little yellow guy.

    3. Gravebound says:

      “˜Pocket Monsters' would have been just fine.

      …If there hadn’t already been Monster in My Pocket on NES, based on the toy line.

      I wish I still had those things.

    4. Ivan says:

      “”˜Pocket Monsters' would have been just fine.”
      I actually disagree. I mean I agree that the name is a pain to type (though I find an apostrophe to be a suitable substitute), but “Pocket monsters” has a lot less charisma than Poke’mon. I can’t say I know what you mean about it being mispronounced either, though that may be because I grew up in a house where we watched the TV show so my parents got to hear the word said over and over and over :P

      Also I feel like “pocket monsters” has a slightly sinister ring about it.

      1. Sorites says:

        On one end of the spectrum we have Super Nerds insisting it’s “Po-kay-mon”, even correcting people who pronounce it without the accent. On the other is Shamus, who says “Pokie-men” just to be annoying. Very few people are happy with this whole arrangement.

        1. Ivan says:

          *shrug* this is the first complaint I’ve ever heard and the card game was a pretty big deal at my elementary school.

          1. Ranneko says:

            I remember being very fussy about the pronunciation, but I was about 12 when I was introduced to it.

            Mostly it was that in Australia, the cartoon was introduced by people who pronounced it incorrectly (it was part of a bigger morning show called Cheez TV), looking back I suspect this was done on purpose by the presenters. It sounds like the kind of thing they would do.

            1. Sleeping Dragon says:

              -So, why would you like to work as a presenter for children’s television?
              -I hate kids and want to troll them.

    5. Daemian Lucifer says:

      What are you talking about?Poke mon is a great name!

    6. Trix2000 says:

      Most people just leave off the accent from the e anyways. If you’re typing out ‘Pokemon’ I doubt anyone’s going to mistake it for something else.

  8. I’m kind of amazed this didn’t come up with the whole “doomed names for hardware” discussion: Xbone. Yes, Microsoft didn’t originate it, but it’s rather obvious when you look at “Xbox One.”

    As for software, “Tongue of the Fatman” always kept me from trying it.

    1. Merlin says:

      Eh, it’s usually more important to roll with the terrible nicknames than to avoid them. Many a tabletop RPG session has been sidelined when the players came up with a goofy nickname for an NPC the DM spent hours building an epic backstory for. The Internet Hate Machine has millions of cores at its disposal; it WILL come up with a silly way to make fun of you. It’s still a dumb name, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft thought people would call it the X1, XO, or “Zone”.

    2. Ventus says:

      I can’t find a source for it right now, but I seem to recall reading an article as to why Microsoft called it the Xbox One; they figured since everyone called the Xbox 360, “The Three-Sixty”, they figured it’d be totally awesome if everyone called their new console by it’s number so it would be said as, “The One”. As in the one true gaming platform or some such nonsense. I’m kinda glad we got the nickname Xbone out of it though ;P

      1. guy says:

        They should totally have done the obvious and used 720. Naming something that’s not the first of its kind One is just asking for trouble.

        1. How DARE you! I nearly spilled my Pepsi One after reading that!

      2. Trix2000 says:

        Sounds like they didn’t think that one through real well – I just can’t shake an image of someone referring to their XBox as ‘The One’ and other people going “the one what?”

        ‘360’ was a nice shorthand in part because it’s distinctive, I think. ‘One’… not so much.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      What about the wii?Xbone may be silly,but at least it has bone in it,which is kind of awesome(though not nearly as awesome as skull).Meanwhile the wii is just childish and silly.

    4. krellen says:

      Tongue of the Fatman was my favourite fighting game growing up. Though the second fighter – the digital person – was grossly overpowered.

  9. One emergent “thing” that happened I didn’t expect was in City of Heroes. There was an energy manipulator power called (I think) “Power Punch.” You just basically charged up your glowing fist and clocked your target, and part of the attack was knockback. I was doing one of those “defeat 10 of X faction” quests, and I was going to polish off a dude with my power punch when someone decides they’re going to take the kill and also attacks… with a power punch.

    Firstly, I didn’t think the game could have two attacks land at nearly the same time, nor did I think the effects would stack. We were both pretty low level, but apparently two knockback powers, even at under level 5 or so, when executed simultaneously, are enough to send a target flying over nearby buildings.

    We both stood there for a second, looking in the direction that our baddie had literally flown. I kind of wish I could’ve seen any responses from other players if they’d been in the area where his body landed.

  10. Galad says:

    Hm, that’s a shame, I guess I’ll be removing the Secret World from my Wishlist.

    Also, adding to the list of games Shamus (and Josh, probably) should play – Crypt of the Necrodancer, the world’s first (at least the first famous) rhythm roguelike. Where even if you suck at rhythm games you should have little to no problem following the rhythm, not following it does not have much of a punishment, and it has one of the best soundtracks ever, featuring a shopkeeper that is too good a surprise to spoil!

    Damn, I wish I were getting paid for writing down these kind of messages.

  11. James says:

    Thinking about crazy things happening in video games.

    I was playing Fallout 3, roaming about around lategame. i had the Fatman and i wanted to show my friend if things that go up come back down with certain weapons like the Fatman or the Rock-it Launcher, so i shot the fat man straight up, and realizing this was probably a bad place to stand if it did come back down i backed off slightly, and SUDDENLY a Yao Gui attacks me, i pull out a shotgun to deal with it, and then BOOOOOM! just behind the Yao Gui the mini nuke lands and explodes killing it, but leaving me alive. a mini nuke i had forgotten about because of the bear.

  12. Alexander The 1st says:

    On the topic of names that doom a video game, I can think of at least one game last year that had a name that got super popular *because* of its name – specifically, The Banner Saga.

  13. Quent says:

    No Josh. You need to describe it right. The dragon goes more like…

    One day a bee flies into your mouth, you get a vision about two people talking over each other about listening to “the voices”, and wake up with superpowers. Then a rather large Asian man in stereotypically Asian clothing comes in the front door, points at your forehead, shoots electricity and knocks you out. You get dumped in a street somewhere and follow some butterflies until you walk into a cafe and listen to a professor about chaos theory for about 10 minutes. Then, after going upstairs, get raped by a lady while a very large muscular man in diapers watches on. You then wake up in a very wooden throne room with as a boy on the throne. A lady (who may be the same lady from before) then talks to you about how she is the mouth, you are the hands, and the kid is the brain. You then travel through a tree to get to lovecraft village.

    It has a very twin peaksish “are you even human” vibe.

    And thats the secret world, except it is also unfortunately an MMO.

    1. Disc says:

      “One day a bee flies into your mouth, you get a vision about two people talking over each other about listening to “the voices”, and wake up with superpowers.”

      That’s for all characters and part of what the game plays as the bigger mystery about the player characters. There’s the “buzzing”, which is somesort of force of nature as far as I’ve figured out and you’re one of the few granted special powers by it with the bee that went in your mouth.. or something. There’s characters along the way that refer to you and your kind as the “bees”. Being mute is just a consequence, along with being practically immortal (given as the reason why you can come back from the dead when you die in-game). Your choice of faction is what decides who comes to get you.

      The start is pretty non-sensical, but the game itself isn’t that bad. Though if you’re not a fan of the Ctulhu mythology mixed with zombies and folklore thingie that the starting area has going for it, you probably won’t like the next two zones either. And that’s a pretty significant chunk of gameplay too. For the rest, as far as I’ve played, the game is all about taking old myths and legends and invariably making them something you have to deal with or fight.

      Gameplay wise it’s a bit different from most MMOs. Basic combat is mostly the same lock on target and keep spamming skills as most other MMOs, but what makes it stand out is there being no designated classes and instead you invest points in a fairly large skill tree (or rather, circle) and build yourself what the game calls a “deck”, essentially a combination of 7 active skills and 7 passive skills (perks essentially) based on the two weapons you’ve got equipped. Which is a neat idea in itself, but it can be somewhat overwhelming to figure what to pick when you’re new to the game. You can use only one weapon if you want, but it will greatly limit your options.

      The other thing is the investigation quests, which by design require you to follow up on given clues and often do some actual research and try to find information from outside the gameplay. Which includes fake blogs and websites (easy to find with google and usually there’s a link referred in-game) created just for the quests, translating foreign languages and figuring out a musical puzzle, among other things. It can be fun, but sometimes only if you’ve got the patience for it. Which is to say, they’re not insanely difficult, but there’s occasionally an amount of effort required that I personally just couldn’t be arsed to bother with a lot of the time. People with more patience have reported generally enjoying them.

      For writing all I can say is it’s nothing that’ll ever blow your mind, especially with the main plot. For MMO-standards, it’s somewhat enjoyable, but yeah. The little stories and glimpses to the history of the areas you get in the side quests and investigation quests were something I found generally more interesting and engaging.

      Edit: That being said, I’ve “only” played up to the near-end of Egypt, which is nowhere near wherever the fuck the end game is at this point since they’ve kept adding new content to the game, but it’s still 110 hours clocked in or so. It’s where I finally got tired with the game, thanks mostly to the dreadfully boring schlock that the gameplay devolved into in that final zone.

  14. Irridium says:

    Regarding funny emergent stories and GTAV, here’s something I managed to capture.


    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Aah,bugs.The funnies part of any open world game.Also unavoidable.

  15. Gordon says:

    Oooh, for best sandbox-emergent stories, I’d probably have to go with a moment form Fallout 3. New Vegas is way better, in my opinion, but this was just fantastic.

    I play Fallout 3 mostly as a scavenger these days – sneak, repair, barter, speech, and a smattering of small guns and explosives for when things go sideways. As a result, I voluntarily underpower myself so that I try to avoid combat. I don’t even really wear armor, and my best gun is the hunting rifle.

    So, anyway, one day I’m picking my way through the outskirts of DC, just up north of the main ruins, with Dogmeat with me, when I come to this overpass that crosses right in front of what is pretty clearly a super mutant camp. I need to get to Rivet City, and any other route is about ten minutes out of my way. So, I try sneaking across. I get maybe halfway before I hear a minigun start to spin up. So, I leap to my feet and start booking it down the other side of the overpass, not even stopping to see how many of them there are. I hit the street on the other side and scramble right, down an alleyway towards the river, dropping frag mines as I go to try and slow them up. I’m just about at the mouth of the alley when I realize I don’t know that Dogmeat’s following me, and I turn to check at the EXACT moment that I hear the -plink- of a tripwire.

    Grenade bouquet, right into the stack of nuclear cars I’m climbing over. I leap off, just barely make it to cover, and lose half my health. Still reeling from the explosion, I stagger out of the mouth of the alley and onto a plaza overlooking the river…

    …right into the teeth of a Raider patrol. Hunting rifle, questionable cover, probably still some mutants on my tail. I drop one, two, three of them, and I’ve got the last one in my sights when – bang – he cripples my head or arm or something, and my aim is thrown WAY off. I’m all out of VATS, and almost out of hitpoints, so I take my last option. I book it out of cover, limping, bleeding out my favorite liter of blood, and flip over the safety rail into the Potomac. As I feebly paddle my way downstream, I happen to pass directly between a skirmish of Super Mutants and Raiders on either side of the river, because of course.

    About a quarter mile downstream, bloodsoaked, irradiated, out of ammo and mines, and bone tired, I haul myself out of the river and onto a partially collapsed dock. I just lie there a while, reflecting on what just happened, and then realize with a pang that I lost Dogmeat. Poor boy. Ah, well. That’s the wasteland.

    And, in the perfect capper, I flop over to get up, and Dogmeat is standing right there.

    I’ve spent entirely too long boasting about this, but I really loved that.

    1. Chain-reaction cars are awesome. I was near that rather infamous stretch of highway loaded with nuclear wrecks when I pass that raider camp near the library. I’d played before and forgot it was there, when I hear gunshots and a rocket explodes near me. I dash forward, past their bridge, and around the corner.

      I finished using a stimpak or two, readied my combat shotgun, and got set to enter VATS when I thought, “I wonder if they hit any of those cars on the…”

      It felt like twenty of them went off at once followed by one more every ten seconds for who knows how long. What made it hilarious and kind of “Loony Tunes by way of Sam Peckinpah” was how among the car parts flying past my corner were Raider arms, legs, heads, loot, etc.

    2. Oh, and more of a bug than emergent gameplay, but I had an old save of Fallout New Vegas that I lost somewhere (and can’t be re-created unless I avoid a lot of FNV’s better mods) where the NCR Ranger who gives you your radio to call in some troops to help you gave me the device while I was on the strip, about to leave for Freeside. He turned to go and vanished through the gate.

      Once on the other side, he was in the “credit check” zone for the Securitrons. They asked to see his money, he showed them his weapon, and he got blown to bits.

      What followed was that every 3 days or so, he’d respawn in the same place, fail the credit check, and get turned into chunky salsa. I made a game of always taking his authority glasses and putting them on one of the bars inside the Lucky 38.

      The pile was VERY impressive the last time I had the chance to look.

    3. Bruno M. Torres says:

      I’ve read somewhere that, for some reason, Dogmeat is almost unkillable. Fawkes too.

      1. Fawkes is unkillable. Dogmeat is a fuzzy ball of suicide who will leap into battle and promptly get himself destroyed because he’s a freakin’ dog.

        That’s why if his presence is essential to your aesthetic, you pick the “Puppies!” perk so every time his stupid mutt-butt gets slaughtered, a clone of him is waiting for you outside of Vault 101.

        So I guess with the perk, he’s technically unkillable, but only in the same way you’d have to wipe out the entire Imperial government to permanently kill Jango Fett.

  16. Joakim says:

    Poor game names?

    “Ittle Dew”. Even the developers themselves hated it.

  17. dp says:

    While I only remember the opening of BabaKiueria, I’m afraid there were no Africans in it. The film is pretty much as described – a role reversal of white settlement in Australia with the colonists now Aborigines. I am incredibly impressed that Ruts has seen this at all though.

  18. guy says:

    My favorite Skyrim story comes from the Dark Brotherhood questline, which I started up after getting a decent way down the Companions questline and you can probably already guess where this is going.

    So one of the quests is to assassinate the Emperor’s sister at her wedding, and there’s some bonus for doing it while she’s on a balcony giving a speech. You can do this by shooting her, or rigging something up to drop a gargoyle on her…

    …Or you can do what I did, which is walk up onto the balcony, turn into a werewolf, and claw her to death in clear view of the entire party before proceeding to rampage through the guests, kill every mortal in attendance, and carve a swathe through the guards rushing in to escape the city, and be completely free and clear due to being in werewolf form the entire time.

    The best part of the story, though, is that this wasn’t a case of picking a completely unsuitable build and bludgeoning my way through a totally inappropriate questline. My character was a sneak and one-handed monster who did x30 damage with sneak attack backstabs. I just felt like being completely unsubtle.

    I also had the equal parts fun and frustrating Shadow Of Mordor story. In the early game, I didn’t get many decapitation or head explosion kills, which meant that dead Uruks could come back to life, potentially more than once.

    That happened. It happened a lot. Frequently, I’d learn that one of them was back when he interrupted me attacking another Captain or occasionally as a bodyguard. It began to get out of hand, though, because at least some of them scored the “show up unexpectedly” trait and refused to stay dead even when re-killed. By the time I left the first zone, my attacks on Captains constantly got interrupted by a kill team of literally five guys. One of them came back at least three times, and I think I eventually Branded him because I was afraid that killing him some more just wasn’t ever going to take.

  19. HeroOfHyla says:

    You talked about game difficulty and the difference between something like Arkham where you can drop the difficulty if you’re having trouble, and something like Dark Souls where you can’t, and I’m going to just jump on that opportunity to say that dying in Dark Souls is not nearly as much of a failure state as in other games. In Dark Souls, if you die, any actual plot forwarding you’ve done (pulling switches, unlocking doors, lighting bonfires, etc.) stays done if you get killed and have to go back to a bonfire. Additionally, you wind up with even more souls than you would have if you had made it all the way through the area in one go (assuming you don’t die a second time on the trek back to your bloodstain), since enemies respawn. To me, DAS1 is a near-perfect version of the whole “self balancing gameplay” you talked about a long time ago. If you’re in an area that’s just too tough, no big deal. You just grind a bit, pump a few more levels into strength and dex until you can use a better weapon, etc. I was able to take advantage of this on my first playthrough (in which I was playing with a keyboard instead of a controller), where I was around level 80 before I could beat Ornstein and Smough. Now I can generally do it at half that level.

  20. Theminimanx says:

    Ugh, the Batman games. It’s funny to me that you think they feel great to play, because I have the exact opposite opinion. Sure, it looks really cool to zip around the battlefield punching dudes, but ultimately it’s just a giant QTE. Keep punching dudes until someone tries to punch you, then counter. If you see a special kind of mook, use the enemy-specific move to disable their special ability, then continue punching. Combine this with the auto-targeting the game has, and I really don’t feel like I’m in control over what I’m doing. I’d much rather play something like Devil May Cry 4, where you have a lot of moves that you can use at any time, and it’s up to you to decide what’s most useful in the current situation. Plus, it has manual dodging.

    Interestingly enough, the Batman stealth sections do provide the kind of creative problem solving I like. There’s nothing stopping you from just sneaking up behind the mooks and strangling them the old-fashioned way, and it’s often faster. But I rarely find myself doing that, because it’s far more fun to try and use as many different stealth takedowns as possible.

    1. Shamus says:

      “Keep punching dudes until someone tries to punch you, then counter. If you see a special kind of mook, use the enemy-specific move to disable their special ability, then continue punching.”

      If you’re trying to get through a fight without breaking your combo, then the problem becomes a lot more complex.

      * Shield guys need to be stunned. But if you stun ANYONE, everyone else likes to try and hit you in the back. So the shield guy creates a zone on the battlefield where you just can’t go (because his attack is un-blockable) until you can isolate him a bit. He’s also a hazard because if you’re just mindlessly pounding on the punch button you’ll end up trying to punch him and break your combo.
      * Knife guys break up your plans by creating problems that have to be dealt with RIGHT NOW, and their attack pushes you out of position.
      * Armored dudes take SO long to beat down that it would be suicide to attempt to do so if there are shields, stuns, or knives around you. You’ll get stabbed. And attempting to punch them breaks your combo. You can burn your insta-knockout on them, but then you’re moving slower.
      * Guys that throw stuff are another thing to worry about. I actually HATE how the game handles them. They yell out, “Hey Batman, catch!” And then they stand there for a few more seconds before they throw the object. In a big group, they’re going to be off-screen, so you need an audio cue to know when to counter.
      * Guys with stun sticks are THE WORST. They can’t be countered, and they have a huge lunge distance. If you see their attack warning, you have to leap out of the way, and then do something else quickly to avoid breaking the combo.

      So yeah, if you’re just trying to punch your way through the game, then the combat is kind of casual and accessible. But if you’re looking to beat the header levels or the challenge maps, then it becomes a high-speed chess game with the enemy creating “no Batman” zones and throwing complex sorting problems at you.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        Tiny nitpick: shield guys actually need to be stomped on from above – it’s the armored dudes that need to be stunned. But this small correction ends up adding to your point (and the points about stunning still stand, of course): there are various ways to continue the combo once you’ve aerial-attacked a shield guy, and the cooler-looking ones are more difficult to pull off.

        Guys with stun sticks are THE WORST.

        Seriously, screw those guys … thank heavens for Disarm & Destroy! Yank, snap, heh.

      2. Theminimanx says:

        I have to admit, I did not actually try to strategically move around the battlefield in the Batman games. The way the game moves you around a lot simply through your attacks didn’t make it clear I was supposed to do that, but I’ll have to try it should I play Arkham Knight at some point.

        Oh, and knife guys are THE WORST. I can never figure out the timing for a proper counter.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      1. The auto targeting isnt nearly as perfect as you paint it to be.If you were to just mash the punch and dodge buttons at the right intervals,youd end up either punching someone you shouldnt(guy with a pecial weapon or a shield),or dodging into a mob where youd end up being hit from multiple sides.You still have to choose where you want to position yourself next.
      2. There are plethora of gadgets that you can use to various effects in batman.
      3. The rhythm of the combat is faster and faster the longer you sustain the combo,both increasing the damage you deal and your ability to dodge,but it also makes it harder for you to sustain,thus striking a fine balance between power and difficulty.

      Granted,you can get through probably the entire game just blindly punching and dodging,but chances are the later fight will become much harder for you,not only because you wont have all the moves,but because you wont be trained to use them properly.Plus,the satisfaction you get for doing an entire battle without breaking your combo is immense.

      Oh,and since you brought dmc,isnt one of the key components of that game varying your moves as much as you can so that you would get the best ranking at the end of an encounter?Batman employs the same thing,so if you want as much xp(points)as possible,you have to vary moves quite a lot.

      1. Arven says:

        As someone who also get QTE vibe from batman games, I think you and Shamus kinda missed the point. I mean, I can’t really speak for Theminimanx, but the reason I don’t feel in control of Batman is because I have to do things at certain intervals. Sure, there’s depth in choosing which movement to use, but that only made me feel even less in control because the game dictates what I can and cannot do.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          So?The same goes for dmc(and a bunch of other fighting games).You still cant interrupt certain attack animations,you still have to time your hits for maximum damage,the only difference is that you can mash buttons without being penalized for it,which means less skill is required for some advanced techniques.

          1. Arven says:

            First thing first, if Batman games’ combat are of fighting game genre/subgenre then I will see myself out of this discussion because I just can’t get fighting games.
            But if not then I would like to say that in DMC (from a few hours playing the 4th game at a friend’s) I think you need to choose to use those uncancelable attack. Also, my problem is not that it has timing, my problem is that it has rythm. With timing based stuff, I observe things and then I can choose to perform something when the opportunity presents itself. But with rythm based stuff, I calculate the best move and then wait until the game allowed me to do it. So there’s a pretty important distinction for someone who value control highly like myself.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              “I think you need to choose to use those uncancelable attack.”

              The same as batman.You dont have to throw a punch,or stun with a cape.You can always move away and throw batarangs from the distance.You wont be as efficient,but hey at least youll be doing something.

              “Also, my problem is not that it has timing, my problem is that it has rythm.”

              Again,I wouldnt mind stuff like this if the comparison was not with another game where you build combos by timing your attacks just right.The duration in which you get to execute the next part of the combo has no impact on the fact that both games incorporate the same thing,only with different timing for attacks.

              ” With timing based stuff, I observe things and then I can choose to perform something when the opportunity presents itself.”

              Just like in batman.You dont really calculate the best move in advance,because the battlefield is fluid.Enemies constantly move around,so you dont just follow the same pattern,you have to vary your movement based on how the mooks are placed.Yes,there is a rhythm to batman fighting,but so is there one for dmc.What separates these two from actual qte games(like guitar hero)is the fact that the rhythm is fluid,based on your decisions,its not something predetermined and rigid.You build it up,you dont follow it.

              The only difference between batman and dmc(and other fighting games)is the duration of the cooldown between hits,thats it.

              Now saying that the timing is too short,or that margin for error is too narrow,those would be legitimate criticisms.

              1. Arven says:

                Alright, I guess I did kinda distract myself by trying to defend a comparison that I didn’t fully comprehend. So I guess I’ll just make my own comparison. In Batman, when you double click at the start of a fight, he only punches once. But in DMC, if you double-tap attack button, you will attack twice. So my problem is that it forces you into rhythm instead of giving you the choice to use it for max score/exp/whatever.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Thats not true.If you simply mash the buttons you will end up throwing single punches.You can fight like that,you just wont get your xp high enough.So it doesnt force you to do so.

                  And once more,the two games differ only in the margin of error.If you tap your attack button more times than the combo chain(is it 3 in the beginning?)in dmc,you will still end up doing just that one chain,and not start another one.The rest of the clicks will be wasted.In batman,that number of clicks is reduced to 1,so again just the difference in quantity.

      2. Theminimanx says:

        Okay, I admit it might be possible to use gadgets and combo attacks on special mooks, but those attacks have incredibly awkward button placement. So if I use such an attack, I completely interrupt my nice button pressing rythm (not to be confused with the in-game combo meter). The gameplay that feels nice to control is different from the gameplay that delivers the best results. This should not happen.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          1-4 arent really that awkward when your hand is on the wasd already.I cant speak for the controller,but I assume its even better placed there.

          Some of the later gadgets (5-0) are a bit awkward though,but you wont be using them as much.Though,if you want to use them more,you can always rebind those.

  21. SyrusRayne says:

    I got the Dragostea Din Tei reference, Rutskarn. I don’t know that that’s a good thing, but at least it wasn’t wasted.

    (That is the proper name of that song, Numa Numa, from the old era of the internet.)

    1. Ithilanor says:

      I noticed that too! Nice reference to an old meme. (before we called them memes)

    1. krellen says:

      I suspect the artist actually plays The Secret World, because the hammer/shotgun Illuminati build is one of the strongest in the game.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok genuine question:
    What makes destiny a “really awesome shooter”?People keep saying that,but I simply dont see it.So what makes it so much more amazing than wolfenstein the new order,borderlands,team fortress 2,firefall,advanced warfare,titanfall and left for dead,to name a few other shooters?Mind you,I dont consider all those examples as amazing shooters,nor have I played all of them.I would just like to know why people think destiny is so special.

    1. Shamus says:

      I say it’s a really awesome shooter in the same way that you might wave garlic around if you’re worried about Vampires. If I talk about the lack of lore, tone, themes, story, characters, environments, classes, and social features, then some insufferable fanboy will pop up and cry, “But what about the gaaaaame plaaaay? It’s a gaaaaaame!” I’ve played whack-a-mole with those guys often enough that I know I need to head them off or else they will hound me and sidetrack the discussion.

      But honestly, I think the game does feel pretty good to play. And I’m asking myself the same question you’re asking me, “What makes this game different from (say) some OTHER two-weapon thumbstick console shooter?” And honestly, I’m not sure. I think a lot of it must be in subtle little details:

      * The enemy animations that make it feel like your weapon is really hitting them hard.
      * Satisfying weapon properties: The sound, animation, and rhythm of reloading. The weapon sound and particle effects.
      * Enemies that move around a bit and don’t just play peek-a-boo from behind the same box for the whole fight.

      But I don’t know. I’m still thinking about this.

      1. Retsam says:

        Destiny has fanboys?

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        So basically the same reason Im playing dead state for weeks now:je nes se qua.

        And to anyone who wonders about dead state,Its not good.It has crappy ai,weapons are lame,its grindy,full of bugs,and easy.But there is just something about the snippets of stories about how the world went to hell you find in it that make me want to read them all,and not just on the wiki,but in the game itself.

      3. Chris says:

        I’m gonna second this. It’s more or less entirely a “game feel” thing. It takes the best parts of what made Halo work and combines them with a lot of what Call of Duty did right and the result is a game that just feels really good to play, especially in the context of it being designed from the ground up as a console game.

        The critical hit zones on enemies are just the right size for analog stick input – they require skill to hit but aren’t super small targets asking for per-pixel aiming. There’s just enough weapon spread/splash damage/auto-aim that you don’t feel like you want a mouse but you also don’t feel like the game’s playing itself for you. The animations and sounds for both the guns and the monsters sell the idea that you’re firing these really powerful weapons at monsters. For their part, the baddies have a chance of flinching when hurt (DOOM nerds would call it a “pain state“) that helps juggle crowds of enemies (something we haven’t seen much of in modern military shooters). Also unlike COD most of the bad guy’s weapons aren’t hitscan. So you can generally move to dodge fire which means there is a bit of a defensive game where movement is key in a way it isn’t in other titles. The game’s also adapted a scope/sight for most weapons that makes the game shift back and forth between “stop and pop” at the risk of taking some of those avoidable hits and more traditional “run and gun” 90’s style play by firing from the hip (which is generally unadvisable in COD except situationally).

        In short the whole thing feels at worst super comfortable and familiar and at best a nice mix of the past 20 years of shooter styles that feeds the whole “power fantasy” thing really well. The story is terrible and the game is devoid of any emotion, and if that’s what you’re looking for it’ll suck. But if you just want a shooter that feels great in your hands that also gives you enough grindy points to level up and get better gear then it’s an amazing game to turn off your brain and play for a bit. It’ll tickle your “aw YEAH that felt good to kill that guy, and hey, now I’ve got a bounty completed!” brain bits. It’s rewarding both intrinsically and extrinsically – it feels good to shoot the guys, then you get occasional loot drops that give you further incentive to keep doing the things that felt good to begin with.

        I’ve compared it to Animal Crossing, and I stand by that – at a certain point it just becomes this faux-social experience where you constantly make a little bit of progress every day towards your goals – it’s just one involves paying off fake mortgages and one involves grinding rep so you can buy that fancy new scout rifle you wanted.

        1. silver Harloe says:

          I have a dumb question: what does “hitscan” mean?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Bullets that instantly hit where you point the weapon,instead of having the bullet travel (slowly) from the gun to the target.

          2. MichaelGC says:

            It’s basically that when a bullet is fired, the game works out if it hits immediately – in contrast to (“parabolic?”) bullets which the game calculates as actually travelling through the air, and are counted as a hit when they reach where the target is. Or was, as this latter type can be dodged. (And often require you to lead the target, or whatnot.)

            That’s my entirely non-technical understanding, anyway – given where we are, if anyone has a nice long proper explanation I’m sure several of us would enjoy that!

            Edit: that’ll teach me not to refresh the page. What Daemian said! – in about a quarter of the words… :D

            Edit edit: “Projectile,” not parabolic. Knew it began with a ‘p’.

            1. Ivan says:

              As a point of reference, a laser pointer (in real life) would be analogous to a hit-scan weapon. It fires and the projectile impacts instantaneously. It is impossible to dodge and can make for very offence oriented game-play.

              Your typical video game rocket launcher or missile is not hit-scan. In extreme examples the projectile is actually so slow that you can outrun it and shoot yourself in the back with it.

      4. Robyrt says:

        You are quite right. Here’s what comes to mind for me:

        * The headshot, reload, enemy reaction and explosion animations are fantastic, and the mechanics ensure you see them often. The screen practically bursts with light and color when your team plays correctly. And the overall “space magic” art design gives the team a lot of latitude to put joyful, fantasy-influenced stuff like fiery angel wings into a macho console shooter.
        * The sound effects are great. There’s a set of basic shoots, grunts and pings for the early levels, and a unique distinctive sound for each top-level gun and special move. Your actions feel like they have weight, but the action sounds aren’t so loud they block out the rest of the spectrum (like, say, Far Cry guns).
        * Like Halo, Destiny is a slower-paced shooter that really aims to level the playing field: the time to kill is relatively high (you can get shot from the side and slide into cover without dying) and everyone has instant-kill super moves that level the playing field. There is virtually no camping, and level advantage is erased in most competitive modes. This sort of design helps attract people like me who dislike Call of Duty or Team Fortress 2.
        * The raid design team puts out cooperative shooter content that no one else can match. They throw new, interesting mechanics at you every 10 minutes for an hour, which build on each other until the final boss battle combines all of them. The whole time, your shooter skills, your team coordination, and your situational awareness are being tested. The first raid features a sound puzzle, flag capturing, a jumping puzzle, a stealth section, a debuff that slowly blinds you, and optional objectives for extra loot, and that’s just off the top of my head.

        That being said, even Destiny’s ardent supporters admit that the MMO and narrative elements of the game range from incredibly flawed to nonexistent. If Destiny came with a random level 27 character and appropriate gear, I would recommend it to everyone who likes shooting aliens in the face. But it doesn’t, and the fact that it takes 30 hours to get to the best part of the game is a serious issue.

    2. Sleepy the Bear says:

      So I was skeptical about Destiny, but playing the demo won me over in December. So I came into it with eyes open about the broken nature of the game.

      I’ve played Borderlands, Destiny, Halo, COD, Titanfall, and Wolfenstein on the 360.
      I think Destiny’s generous auto-aim helps in comparison to Wolfenstein, which I think would feel better on a PC? Like Half-life 2, Wolfenstein feels skittish on the console. Destiny is a bit slower and more methodical than COD/Titanfall which gives my slow, old brain time to cope and react. And the gunplay just feels better than Borderlands (since most guns in Borderlands suck, but the occasional one is good).

      Destiny’s world and gameplay oozes polish. The small animations of the guns as you move and fire. The engine is great, with dynamic lighting and a rock solid framerate. The art direction is colorful, and varied (not too much grey and brown here) for both environment and enemies. You also have 3-4 Satisfying, fairly varied combat options all the time.

      Destiny is also easy. It plays like Halo on easy mode, with some Borderlands style bullet-sponge bosses. Playing patrol you feel like an unstoppable badass, because it is easy. It also has the best radar system I’ve seen. It is the only FPS I can play without headphones since it clearly emphasizes enemies sneaking up on me without any audio cues.

      Destiny is also compelling, in the OCD sense with addictive qualities. There is lots of quick positive feedback via completing missions or collecting bounties for “Kill 200 things”. I’m about 20-30 hours in, with characters in the 26-27 range, with a whole lot of grind ahead of me to “finish it”. Apparently this is the point where the lustre starts to wear off for most people.

      Given that polish, the way the story is handled is especially egregious. It feels like they surgically removed the skeleton of the story. There is zero motivation or consequence to what you do, in a world with lots of incidental lore. One of the games I’ve played in my head while playing is trying to reconcile the story to give motivation to the factions. Basically I came up with: Aliens are humanity’s distant children (because why else would they care about the solar system), adapted to space (Fallen), War (Cabal) or uploaded into silicon(Vex). None of them are evil, just with goals at odds to ours, perhaps trying to fight the Traveller and each other. The Traveller (for some reason) is raising an army of undead guardians, which will kill everything and do whatever they say. And the Hive are the end-result of that undead style of army. As I say, trying to give Destiny a story keeps my brain occupied while I mindlessly complete bounties and hope for better gear to drop.

      Titanfall was fun, but multiplayer only and had a “story” delivered via radio-chatter during hectic multiplayer matches. Killing the bots was fun, but I really need some sort of campaign. I always felt discombobulated from trying to follow the story while playing. If there was a decent single player campaign( which would be awesome – Crysis 2 with extra giant robots!) I would have never picked up Destiny.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Its not really an emergent thing,but the moment that is stuck in my head for life from all the open world games is:
    The wizard that falls out of the sky in morrowind,and that has 3 jumping scrolls on him.Yeah,its scripted,but it handily beats all the other stuff that Ive managed to do myself.

    1. Benjamin Hilton says:

      Yeah that is always fun to watch.

      I’m not really sure how emergent this story is either, but one of my favorite moments came from Deus Ex original flavor:

      When doing the mission to take back the Statue of Liberty, they tell you to try to be stealthy, but if you start shooting the troops will bust in to help.
      When I eventually did get spotted I got cornered and knew it was only a few seconds before the bad guys got to the room I was hiding in and killed me. Then I hear allot of gunfire.
      I go out side and see the baddies fighting my reinforcements: Anna(another aug) and a single unatco trooper, who because of the way AI worked was close enough to the enemy that he decided to pull out his knife to fight with.
      I see him kill at least two people during the fight.

      Now this guy is fighting a small army of terrorists along side two augmented super soldiers with all sorts of guns, and he goes in with a knife.

      When the fight was over I was like “That guy, that guy right there. Give him a promotion. Right now.”

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Not really a terrible name,but a very confusing one:Grey goo.Would you ever guess its a rts?And very similar to galaxy at war.Which is also a confusing name,since its confined to a single planet.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Absolutely: my guesses would have been:

      -Indie platformer with minimalist colour palette
      -Tactical Japanese RPG
      -Er, one of those science-y puzzle games like SpaceChem?
      -Some sort of low-budget Mass Effect clone?
      -We’re totally sure it’s not an indie platformer? No? I’m going to need a clue.

  25. Spammy says:

    It’s okay Shamus, I’m here to say that Dark Souls is bad. Because I dissent strongly about Dark Souls.

  26. krellen says:

    Shamus, make sure you add Shadowrun Returns to your list of games you’re not playing so you can replay Arkham City instead.

  27. Phantos says:

    I think Extra Credits made a very good case for how Dark Souls 2 is actually a lot easier than people give it credit for.

    And I say this having had to retract some criticisms about that game, when I found out I was just playing it incorrectly. I was very, very angry at the DLC, and then I watched that video and immediately felt stupid.

    I didn’t know there were like seven replenishable items that prevent you from losing any souls! I thought they would break forever like in the first game.

  28. WWWebb says:

    “How could old games get away with that insane difficulty” would be a good Experienced Points column. Probably some combination of:
    1- Accessible? Does that mean having good shelf space in a lot of stores?
    2- Why waste limited disk space on a tutorial? That’s what the manual is for.
    3- If this game doesn’t take our target audience (kids with lots of time) at least a month or two, they’ll think they wasted their allowance.
    4- If we make it hard enough, they’ll brag about beating it. Then their friends will go and buy it.
    5- What else are they going to play? It’s not like they’ve got immediate access to thousands of competing games…

  29. Cuthalion says:

    I’m disappointed Divine Divinity didn’t come up in the “games with stupid names” discussion. :P

  30. Sleepyfoo says:

    I’m Sad I missed Campster at MAGfest. I didn’t wander around the Arcade much outside of the Indie section, and doing the puzzle for the table-flipping charity guys.

    I spent most of my time in MAGES (music and game education symposium) Panels. I suspect Campster and Shamus would like them, though naturally not all of them were good.

    Definitly a hobbyist/fan convention rather than a business convention. The board game room on the top floor is lots of fun, I ended up playing the Dilbert board game and my friend played a Pen and Paper RPG with the developers.

    Also, there is always music somewhere, and it can be fun to just sit and listen and crowd watch.

    Peace : )

  31. KenTWOu says:

    Your emergent game play stories were so bland. They are like… basic system interactions in the games you mentioned. No wonder you don’t like/recognize some of the games with a stronger focus on emergent gameplay saying they are super repetitive. Ubisoft Far Cry series comes to mind.

  32. lucky7 says:

    I actually had the same experience as Shamus with the Batman games, though I started with Origins. On the Origins challenge maps, I struggled to get more than the minimum required for 3 medals, and did my entire 1st playthrough not knowing what a special combo move was.

    Now, I routinely get three medals worth on the Arkham City challenge maps, and though that might signify a change in the combat system, I like to think it represents Batman becoming more mature and a better fighter.

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