Diecast #94: Wolfenstein, Planet Explorers, Evolve, Destiny

By Shamus Posted Monday Feb 23, 2015

Filed under: Diecast 107 comments

Direct link to this episode.

Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Chris.

Show notes:

1:00 Josh has finally played Wolfenstein: The New Order.

26:00 Shamus has been playing Planet Explorers.


To clarify, when I say it “felt like an MMO”, I mean: Hotbar-based inventory. Stiff, mechanical movement. Camera that’s either too far away or aimed into your head. Layers of complexity and abstraction behind simple tasks like “combine items to make thing”. Quests from shallow NPCs with forced,awkward dialog. Semi-transparent dialogs covering the visuals. Mouse controls that default to “hold down right mouse button to look”. The game doesn’t pause when you bring up the menu. Combat is less about pressing an attack button to initiate an attack and more like you hold a button down so your character will attack at the predefined intervals. There’s no reason to move around. Just stand face-to-face with the monster and keep attacking until one of you dies.

There are two game modes: “Adventure” and “Story”. I’m really regretting going with story. If I go back to the game (probably won’t) I’ll give adventure a try and see if that’s better.

To be fair: The game is in early access on Steam, and it’s not fair to judge an incomplete indie game by AAA standards. But not matter how much they polish this game, that MMO-ness seems to be a deliberate design choice. Sadface.

On the other hand, I do like the otherworldly visuals. And that draw distance is pretty admirable.

31:00 Shamus talks about Activeworlds.

This is probably the most I’ve said about my old job at one time. I’ve always kind of kept quiet out of respect to my former employers. Think of how bad it would look if a game developer went around criticizing the game they just finished and wishing they could have done more. And that’s sort of my thing. So it’s hard to talk about Activeworlds without doing a fifteen-year postmortem on it. But I doubt anyone will mind this bit of retrospection.

40:00 Chris is playing Evolve.

50:00 Chris and Josh are playing Destiny.


From The Archives:

107 thoughts on “Diecast #94: Wolfenstein, Planet Explorers, Evolve, Destiny

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    [smug jerk]Josh you just suck at vidja games.I played wolfenstein on hard and had no problems.Go back to your destiny,n00b.[/smug jerk]

    1. gunther says:

      I don’t know if I’d call Normal “difficult”, but in retrospect I do kinda wish I’d dropped the difficulty setting down to Easy. I didn’t really enjoy it, finishing it only because I was invested in the story. When it started to win a lot of “game of the year” awards I was honestly shocked.

      What I mean by calling Normal “not difficult”: I didn’t die all that often… but the bullet-spongeyness of the enemies ruined the flow of the game; having to hide behind cover 90% of the time, having to constantly scrounge for ammo because just one of those (very common) shotgun-mooks takes his own body weight in bullets to down, having to avoid using the special weapons because I might need them for boss fights where you’re given maybe half the ammo you need, etc.

      It’s probably a lot more fun on Easy because you can play it like a 90s shooter and just run around shooting Nazis in the face without worrying about conserving your shotgun ammo or whatever.

      1. Jokerman says:

        Normal is ok until the last 4-5 levels where the game decides to really ramp up it’s difficulty, i knocked it down to easy and started enjoying it again.

      2. Zak McKracken says:

        A hypothesis, after not playing the game but listening to Josh, Shamus, and reading Gunther’s post:

        Maybe the problem is that that adjust difficulty in the wrong way? By simply increasing enemy health or somesuch? There are a number of different ways to do it, and this seems to be the simplest and likely one that will not make the game more fun on the higher difficulties: The balance between available and required ammunition changes (thus the accuracy required to not run out), the number of hits you need to land to achieve anything (thus the time spent just pumping stuff into bullet sponges that may otherwise be trivial to deal with) and so on.

        What I think would be better ways of increasing difficulty:
        * Reduce the player health, while making sure that the damage a player could take actually depends on skill, and there is a good bandwidth between easily-avoided hits and hard-to-dodge ones.
        * improve the aim or damage that enemies make (similar to above)
        * more enemies — where it makes sense! We don’t want to turn a stealth section into a bloodbath
        * reduce hitboxes — that means using slightly-too-large hitboxes on lower levels.

        The “right” thing to do is probably a carefully-balanced combinations of all of them. Overdoing either would probably change the character of the game. Some difficulty increases can be dealt with by either better tactics or better/quicker aim, or better dodging, or other things … and you need to end up with the right combination so that the character of the game changes as little as possible.

        I find it quite possible that this wasn’t done (well) for Wolfenstein.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    But Chris,you have to admit that being able to carry two sniper rifles at the same time makes the game so much more strategic.

    1. James says:

      well one sniper is good, and fun, two is twice as fun. obviously.
      i hope machine games get more projects like Wolfenstien to work on they seam to know their stuff

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I was actually talking about his destiny loadout.

        1. Chris says:

          No Land Beyond is the worst. Just the absolute worst. It is an active handicap masquerading as an exotic weapon.

          1. Are all the weapons in Destiny given abstract names like that? Because that kind of stuff gets old quite fast. It reminds me of how they kept trying to come up with new names for “powers” in 4th Edition D&D.

            1. Adam says:

              Legendary and Exotics are. Both weapons and armor. Standouts include “Lucky Raspberry”, “Fate of All Fools”, “Patience and Time”, “An Insurmountable Skullfort”, and “Helm of Inmost Light”.

              1. modus0 says:

                What about “Light Beyond Nemesis”, or “Don’t Touch Me”, “MK.44 Stand Asides”, “The 4th Horseman”, or “Mask of the Third Man”?

                1. Guildenstern says:

                  Pillar of Autumn, Forward Unto Dawn, Silent Cartographer, Truth and Reconciliation.

                  Infinite. Devil. Machine.

                  I’m positive Bungie just has a random word generator that handles naming things for them.

                  1. Adam says:

                    I don’t know why, but I really liked the way they named things in Halo, even though the items in Destiny bug me.

                    Also, whoa. For some reason hitting the end of the line in a text box here causes the whole box to move over. I think this level of indented comment is slightly smaller than the smallest size the comment box can shrink down to. Shamus! Fix this!

                    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

                      Halo had these quasi-religious themes that justified the naming. I’m not sure about destiny, since I haven’t played it, but in Halo the esoteric names fit in with the esoteric back-end of the story.

                      Of course, they also reserved them for important things. The guns and small vehicles had simpler names- needler, ghost, warthog, etc.

  3. Joseph P. Tallylicker says:

    @24 minutes in: holy hell I want a week of spoiler warning: original sin! It’d be great, Josh and rutskarn trolling each other ingame.

  4. boz says:

    I think Fergus path is relatively easier than Wyatt route. Fergus route has health upgrades instead of armor upgrades of Wyatt.

    1. Bitterpark says:

      So I beat most of the game on Death Incarnate, didn’t have too much trouble until the second half, finally caved and dropped to Normal in the final level because the shotgun dudes just 3-shot me from overcharged health and armor.

      Then I started a new game, and realized that the upgrades carry over. So, what that tells me is that you’re supposed to play once on baby difficulty, get your collectibles, build up and THEN knock the difficulty up higher. Which is a pretty backwards way to go, all things considered.

      But if you play on harder difficulties first, it really is a cover shooter with medkits instead of regenerating health, which isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself, but you can forget your run and gun gameplay that was supposed to be this game’s main draw.

  5. Riley says:

    Ok, setting aside the (very problematic) Jew situation in Wolfenstein:TNO for a moment, can we talk about the evil Nazi lady’s fey lieutenant? 2014 and we still have blatantly gay coded villains. I won’t say it ruined the train scene but it was highly distracting.
    Also I totally agree about the “cuddling the recharge station” gameplay getting old. I am not enjoying myself on normal difficulty, clearly I should knock it down a peg or two.

    1. Dragomok says:

      I normally don’t have a problem with non-hetero villains, and I haven’t played the game, but I think a gay Nazi villain is just… dissonant, in a similar way a non-white character would feel.

      Nazis were well-known for treating as a perversion everything that didn’t fit in their vision of heterosexuality.

      1. Mike S. says:

        Gay per se isn’t completely dissonant– SA (i.e., brownshirt, Nazi paramilitary) head Ernst Rohm and other SA leaders that were key to the Nazis’ rise to power were known to be gay, where there weren’t, e.g., nonwhite stormtroopers. Rohm and the other SA leaders were purged by Hitler well before WWII, with their sexuality being a primary justification for their elimination. (And of course Nazi anti-gay measures only got worse from there.) But Wolfenstein doesn’t strike me as being exactly a stickler for chronology.

        Coding characters as fey and flaming, on the other hand, probably isn’t being done for reasons of historical accuracy. (I haven’t played the game, so I’m assuming the description is accurate.)

      2. WILL says:

        We’re talking about a game where the only reason nazis won where because of secret jewish magic technology. This is very much a rewriting of history, for all the horror of nazi germany, their technological advancement was very much due to german scientists.

        Also that guy is straight up creepy. Some very old gay stereotypes might apply to him, but it’s obvious they were going for psychopath.

        1. It almost makes me think that someone really liked Raiders of the Lost Ark and swapped out “magical technology” for “the Ark of the Covenant” and it snowballed from there.

        2. Thomas says:

          That’s worse right? Mixing out of date gay stereotypes with someone whose meant to be “creepy” and “psychopathic”

          I’ve never played the game and I don’t know the character you guys are talking about. Just that without context, I would have assumed you were even more talking about how awful this was.

    2. DeadlyDark says:

      I don’t think he’s gay… It was obvious that he is the Frau’s boytoy with over the top bohemic manners, but instead of being artist or something he’s a favorite of high ranking officer. But it’s my take. I just didn’t saw him as gay while I playing (I don’t know, may be this makes me a bad person?).

      1. gunther says:

        Seconding this; he seemed totally head-over-heels in love with the Nazi prison-camp woman. I thought that was a nice touch, actually – like the game was trying to say even evil people can have loved ones.

      2. Viktor says:

        Not gay, gay-coded. He’s designed to seem gay via blatant stereotypes, making him abnormal/feminine/weak in contrast to our Man’s Man bulky/tough heroes.You see it more in movies from the 50’s til the 80’s(and more modern Disney stuff), but I’d hoped we were past the point where that was common.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Kind of like that guy they inexplicably had on the Super Bowl this year?

          Sorry, if he’s a football fan more power too him but I felt like he was put there to troll traditional football fans (“hand-egg” for those across the pond, just discovered that term and love it).

        2. Abnaxis says:

          At the risk of starting something heated (sorry!)…

          I’m not sure what I think about getting upset about “gay coding.” Taking offense at something that would be a stereotype (if it were applied to a minority) to someone who is not a member of that minority seems like it is counter productive. For one, taking offense inherently propagates the stereotype. Are you saying that all male characters that project an effeminate side are “gay coded”? Isn’t that the very definition of a stereotype?

          For another thing, pretty much every negative (or perceived negative, if we’re talking about qualities given to villains) quality could be interpreted as a proxy for a stereotype. Are all miserly villains now “jew coded”?

          I think for it to really be an issue, there needs to be something else that clearly shows that the villain is intended to lampoon the minority in question. That the villain shows a quality that is negatively associated with homosexuals isn’t the problem–the stereotype itself is the problem.

          All that said, I don’t really remember TNO all that well–I watched bits and pieces of someone else play–so the connection might be there and I hadn’t noticed it. I just cringe a little bit when you say that the lieutenant taking on stereotypes is a problem, regardless of his connection to the stereotyped population.

          1. Riley says:

            If this game existed in a vacuum, I’d mostly agree. But it does not. “Gay Nazis” is very much a thing. Explicitly in older media and implicitly in a lot of modern media masculine is the “default” and feminine is the “other”. The good guys are gung-ho chiseled mandudes and the enemies are drawn in as sharp contrast to that as possible. Flaws like drug addiction or frequenting brothels are added as a way to assure the viewer or player that yes, indeed they are Bad People who do Bad Things. It’s effective if not terribly inspired. The problem is when “gay” or “metrosexual” or “feminine” or “girly” traits are used for the same purpose.

            These flaws are used to make the bad guys the other, and feminine traits are a “great” (read lazy and toxic) way to do that.
            The attitude is “It’s not enough that they murder innocents on an industrialized level or make leather out of the skin of prisoners, they are also fags!”
            Make no mistake, the gay subtext is pretty much text. Remember when BJ is being corralled through the entry of the concentration camp? He basically fawns over how big and Aryan you look with, let us say, an unsubtle tone.

            Am I saying you cannot create this kind of character? No. But the writers clearly did not think through the implications of their plot or characters. They didn’t think through the Jewish space cabals and they didn’t think through this.
            Just to be clear, I’m not accusing the developers of being homophobic. But they borrowed without commentary, thought, or analysis from media that was.

            Showing the inside of a concentration camp in a AAA game took some hutzpa and I do admire the game for taking risks. I just think that this is an troubling trope with a dark history and shouldn’t be used casually.

            1. Ed Lu says:

              Thanks for this. I did not understand the argument going on above, and now it totally makes sense. Wish I could upvote.

            2. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Yeah,but its just this one guy.Not to mention that he is always in the company of the uber woman that survives having her head crushed.

              The trope is troubling when it applies to the the only one that has the face,or to all of them.But just this single guy?Nah.

  6. Wide and Nerdy says:

    Omg. Shamus, please do more about Active Worlds/Second Life/Metaverse. I’d read a novels worth of blogs from you on this. I feel like Oculus is about to breathe new life into that idea and give us the first version of the metaverse that really catches on.

  7. Bloodsquirrel says:

    On Wolfenstein:

    1- I don’t remember if I played it on Normal or Hard, but I didn’t remember it being anywhere near that bulletspongy aside from the big robots. The difficulty felt pretty good to me- there were only a few parts that I had to repeat more than a few times.

    2- So, you’ve got a secret hideout in the middle of the city. Being discovered is certain death. So J is doing the most productive thing he can: collecting speakers and amplifiers.

    3- I wasn’t offended by the Jew Conspiracy stuff, but it was this huge WTF that the game didn’t really do the groundwork to sell.

    4- The game’s attempts to create empathy with it’s ridiculous meatwall of a main character were a disaster. This is a man who wakes up after 20(?) years in a coma, and has no reaction or thoughts to seeing what has happened while he’s been gone other than “Yep, time to kill more Nazis. Growl.”

    1. CJ Kerr says:

      1- I don't remember if I played it on Normal or Hard, but I didn't remember it being anywhere near that bulletspongy aside from the big robots. The difficulty felt pretty good to me- there were only a few parts that I had to repeat more than a few times.

      Ditto – particularly once I unlocked a few of the headshot-related perks, most enemies went down in just a few shots. In more sparsely populated areas this makes the pistol better than the assault rifle because it does OHK headshots on ordinary Nazi mooks.

      The big robots with miniguns were a total pain though. No fun at all to fight.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        If you had the ammo to spare for your bigger guns they weren’t too bad.

        There was one part I remember being kind of a pain because it had because there were two of them and a lot of other enemies and I ran out of the good stuff to throw at them.

        Going into the game expecting 90’s run-and-gun is probably going to make the game seem harder, because it’s really not playable that way.

    2. Jokerman says:

      “The game's attempts to create empathy with it's ridiculous meatwall of a main character were a disaster. This is a man who wakes up after 20(?) years in a coma, and has no reaction or thoughts to seeing what has happened while he's been gone other than “Yep, time to kill more Nazis. Growl.”

      Him being “manly enough” to just break out of what looks like Locked-in syndrome was even weirder to me, apparently everyone with it just needs a better reason to get there ass up.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        They needed more murder in their guts. Modern medicine is so far behind when it comes to harnessing the healing power of murderous rage.

        EDIT: I bet that’s what Shamus needs to fix his allergies. Just try wanting to kill people really, really hard, Shamus.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Not people,nazis.Killing nazis is the cure for everything.Especially if they are on the moon.

        2. Paul Spooner says:

          “For the wrath of the gods behind the gods
          that would rend all gods and men.
          Well if the old man’s heart hath still
          wheels sped of rage and a roaring will
          like cataracts to break down and kill.
          Well for the old man then.”

      2. But when you bust out of a coma, you aren’t still a muscular super-dude. You’re a newly minted precognitive that sets out to assassinate a senator to prevent WWIII.

    3. modus0 says:

      BJ wasn’t exactly in a coma for all that time, just catatonic. He was aware of everything going on around him (hence the player being able to witness it (albeit on fast-forward).

      So he knows about everything that’s happened, which is partially why he snaps back into “Kill all the Nazis” so quickly.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        That would be even worse.

        Being aware but unable to move for two decades? That’s a horror story. Just taking a step after that would bring a normal human being to tears.

        I don’t really expect the game to turn into a Nazi-filled version of Awakenings, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that you have a main character after that. You’ve got a camera with some guns hanging off of it. Proceed accordingly.

    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

      but I didn't remember it being anywhere near that bulletspongy aside from the big robots.

      And those you can always stun with a grenade and shoot at their weakspots.

      This is a man who wakes up after 20(?) years in a coma, and has no reaction or thoughts to seeing what has happened while he's been gone other than “Yep, time to kill more Nazis. Growl.”

      Well obviously.What else would you do after shitting in your diaper for so long?

    5. The Jew Conspiracy stuff, isn’t implied they are Atlantians (from Atlantis or Shangrila etc?)

      Basically they are the “Druids” in this game, which makes the Nazi’s the Evil wizard king and his army?
      And the player a middle-aged knight with amnesia. Ok, Wolfenstein does not have the best plot I guess.

    6. Peter H. Coffin says:

      That anyone can wake up from the 20-year coma and growl anything but “muscular atrophy” is straining the credibility.

  8. Da Mage says:

    On the topic of not much overlay between sport game players and traditional game players:

    Over at the Australian gaming news site that I follow, they do actually do some sports game reviews…..but not your standard EA sport games. They have detailed reviews and comparisons every time a new Cricket game comes out (ICC Pro Cricket 2015, Don Bradman Cricket 14 and Ashes Cricket 2013). Which are games that actually have quite a bit of overlay between your traditional ‘gamer’ and more casual ‘gamer’.

    Though I realise this is more of a cultural thing.

  9. Dev Null says:

    Damn. I really wanted you to like Planet Explorers (I think I might even have sent you an email recommending you check it out – sorry bout that.) Because if you liked it, then it’d probably be worth me picking it up when they finished it.

    Ah well; one day we’ll get a real procedurally-generated universe exploration game that’s a true sequel to Starflight. I’ll be waiting.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Me too. I saw Planet Explorers on Steam and thought “Hmm, I’ll wait until Shamus reviews it.”
      Glad you cam through for us and reviewed it.
      Sad that it turns out to be a dud.

  10. Nimas says:

    With regards to Evolve, it looks like a game that would be really fun assuming you actually could play with people you know.

    Watching the TFS plays of Evolve, it’d strike me as pretty boring if you weren’t friends with everyone else.

  11. Dahud says:

    I went to the Active Worlds website on my phone, and got a screen asking that I

    “Please return to this website on a device with at least 1024×768 resolution to access all available content.”

    Nevertheless, the latest release of their client was last November. Looks like they’re still making a go of it, but are dealing with a lot of cruft. I suppose that’s expected for 20 year old software.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Second Life seems to have the same problem albeit locked into little bit more recent technology. I’d like to see another company take a pass at the Metaverse. I don’t think Second Life is going to pick it up and get us there.

      What I’m really looking forward to with the next pass is the ability to use your hands in 3D space and how that opens up content creation possibilities.

      1. Dahud says:

        I actually think that Minecraft is filling the niche that Second Life was trying to hit. This was touched on in the Diecast, when they compared Minecraft multiplayer building to building in Active Worlds. When I was a heavy Minecrafter, there were a few servers that I would log onto just to socialize with the other players.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Yeah and it really makes me wish the minecraft beta users hadn’t fought to keep the 8 bit aesthetic. That’s whats keeping me away. It being a blocky world with that 8 bit look just makes me not feel like building anything and hampers my ability to enjoy it. I think its fine for a lego-verse but a proper metaverse should be trying for a better aesthetic. Doesn’t need to be photo real but better than this please.

          That said, I appreciate the mechanics of Minecraft and how it makes building more streamlined and easier than second life where, to build anything decent, you had to create and import 3D models from actual modeling tools and then script their behavior in an actual scripting language. I think it would be good if those options were available too but having a simpler but still modular, flexible and grokkable means of building things and including behaviors is good.

          1. Wide and Nerdy says:

            Also land was ridiculously expensive in sl. I think it cost about 100 a month for enough land to build a decent castle.

          2. Bloodsquirrel says:

            You can only go for so much realism when your world is fundamentally made up of 1x1x1 meter cubes (Also, texture packs are a big thing).

            1. Wide and Nerdy says:

              Then use other things. Surely there is something between Minecraft and Second Life

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Second craft?Mine life?

                1. PowerGrout says:

                  #You should cut down on yer Craft Life mate,
                  #…get some exercise

              2. ET says:

                There’s not really any viable alternatives that wouldn’t either:
                A. Require the players to invest vast amounts of time fiddling with tons of objects or a complicated GUI, or
                B. Require a decade of R&D time, because auto-stitching different 3D shapes together is incredibly difficult. Like, professors-get-paid-to-research-this difficult.

                1. ET says:

                  Shamus there’s a bug in your comment form – it’s width gets set wrong at deeper levels of comment, so that you can’t click on the check-box. (although luckily you can click on its label to the right)

                  1. Shamus says:

                    Thanks! I’ll look into it.

                2. Ivan says:

                  I also feel that if minecraft had gone for a less blocky aesthetic then they would have had to sacrifice gameplay in order to achieve it. I very much appreciate minecraft for going for simple/functional graphics so that all that time and resources could be spent on making a fun game.

                3. Wide And Nerdy says:

                  This would absolutely be worth a decade of R&D time. But I seriously doubt we’d need that long to figure it out.

    2. Alexander The 1st says:

      Yeah, you can still download the client (They indicate it’s for giving it a try, so not sure if there’s a subscription fee? Doesn’t appear to be one.).

      That said, it really *is* the Everquest to World of Warcraft of Second Life.

    3. I looked at their calendar. It’s kind of weird that their only weekly event is a reading from the Gor novels.

      For those who might not be familiar with the setting, you might have seen one of the films based on them in the MST3K episode, “Outlaw of Gor.” It’s the episode that gave us the “Tubular Boobular” song.

      1. Lisa says:

        They made films of Gor? Now I’m both curious and horrified.

        1. Only two of them, I think. The one above was the sequel, and had probably one of Jack Palance’s more… unique roles.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            And the most annoying sidekick this side of Jar Jar Binks.

      2. Dahud says:

        For a more… distilled.. introduction to Gor, see the short story “Houseplants of Gor”.

          1. Dahud says:

            You are plant.

    4. ET says:

      Seems like their website responds to the number of pixels your browser reports. Like, when I viewed it with my window resized to the left half of my screen, it showed the message about minimum resolution; When it was maximized, the message was gone.

      1. Retsam says:

        Ahh, I got the same message from my browser… didn’t even think about the fact that I had my browser split, since that’s pretty much the normal for me.

  12. Steven says:

    Shamus, Chris and Josh,

    I would love to slog through a Nightfall/Raid with you-all sometime.

    PSN ID: StevenDeRosa

    Steven, a fan

  13. Alex says:

    “With regards to Evolve, it looks like a game that would be really fun assuming you actually could play with people you know.”

    I wouldn’t even say that. It’s not just the arena fights that look to suffer from a lack of meaningful options: when the arena is not up, how many ways can the hunters actually improve their chances of winning? One, by running towards the monster? It’s not like it’s worth splitting your hunt team up to catch the monster in a pincer maneuver, or leaving the monster alone to feed while you go after a secondary objective elsewhere.

    1. Chris says:

      I felt this way about some of the tertiary weapons that never feel like there’s a good time to use them.

      Like, yeah, the lightning gun does decent damage to the monster and so on, but rods to slow the monster down? Weapons that make specific parts vulnerable? Prox mines?

      Those are all really cool, but they imply a degree of forethought and planning that just can. not. happen. You’re chasing after the thing, then you see it and all hell breaks loose for a minute and a half, then you go your separate ways and recoup. When can you set up a trap with your mines and harpoons? When can you make sure everyone focus fires on the foot you hit with the weakpoint generator?

      It feels like one of two things happened: Either the designers are highly skilled players who built a game expressly for other highly skilled players and anyone who can’t use traps or manage defensive item placement while also on the offense is just SOL… or they had designers very interested in how balanced things looked on paper without a lot of playtesting those ideas in action (though I doubt that’s the case).

      I just… I mean, I see how the pieces fit together, then I try to play it and the whole thing just becomes chaotic bedlam of spamming crap. And playing with randos/pubbies doesn’t help that.

  14. Patrick the relucatant capitalist says:

    Entering the vid game industry is not that far removed than other professional jobs. Especially ‘creative’ fields that are less reliant on math and science. Its tough finding a degree related job out of college no matter what you do. The odds of a kid graduating a college, university or tech school and landing a true “career” job is very, very rare. Almost every one under the age of 30 has changed jobs at least twice since graduation. That’s just the market.

    1. Cuthalion says:

      Well, one hopes they change those jobs because they’re not what they’re looking for long term, not because they are passive-aggressively abused as employees.

  15. tmtvl says:

    Ooh, nice opening, Shamus! Sounds really smooth and good, I love the deeper tones.

  16. Carlos says:

    Have to say: this week’s closing music was particularly excellent. I’d listen to an album of this stuff.

  17. Andy_Panthro says:

    Josh talking about housing in Star Wars: Galaxies made me immediately think of Ultima Online, which had the exact same issue.

    As soon as houses were allowed, every single available space was taken up and eventually it made certain areas just horrible.

  18. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The problem with evolve is that giants*HURK*citizen kabuto did it better.A decade ago.And you can get it from gog.And it still has an active player base.So screw evolve,go play some kabuto.Or better yet,kickstart a remake.

  19. AJax says:

    Kind of surprised to hear that Josh disliked Wolfenstein as much as he did. To me , I thought of it as nice mix of FEAR and Half-Life 2. It echoes the chaotic combat of FEAR (along a really nice take on a leaning system I’ve ever seen in a console focused shooter) and the run n’ gun/puzzly solvy/traversal of a Half Life game.

    Also Josh, the shotgun jerks are best taken out by shooting them in the backpacks then keep headshotting them with the rocket launcher or take a shot at them with a fully charged beam shot (if you got the upgrade) from the Lazerkraftwerk.

  20. Kian says:

    How to deal with “scarcity” in a virtual world is an interesting problem. Even if space is virtual, if you have two people wanting to build in the same spot you have scarcity.

    An approach to take could be to have shared hubs, where people can meet and interact, but let everyone have their own instance they own when they leave the hub. So everyone has a plot of land within walking distance of the hub, and you can invite friends over. You could eventually stitch together your shard and a friend’s, so that they can build next door but not have strangers come and ruin everything. If you have a dispute, you split off. Both players get to keep a copy of the shared space, and they can then fix it however they want.

    And the more I think about it, the more that it seems like the distributed source control model (like Git or Mercurial) would fit this perfectly :P

    1. Lisa says:

      Have you been reading about The Farm in Procedural World? That’s exactly how he described what was going on with that.
      Also, I’d just like to bring it to others attention because I think it’s a really cool idea.

      1. Kian says:

        No, hadn’t heard about them. Looks interesting. I guess great minds think alike :P

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That thing Shamoose said about “someone with no aesthetic feeling erecting a giant cube next to your scale replica of a fabulous monument”,it could be worse.It could be a giant glass pyramid.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      dat +16 theming bonus

    2. When he said “giant glass cube,” my first thought was “someone built an Apple Store in Minecraft?”

  22. The Rocketeer says:

    I actually find it a lot easier to circle-strafe with dual analogs. With mouse and keyboard, even with my mouse sensitivity all the way up, if I want to circle around something that means picking up and lifting the mouse numerous times whenever I run out of mousepad, which messes up the “circle” part of circle strafing. It’s not a big deal, really, but it’s a problem I don’t have with dual analogs, which just needs both sticks pushed in the same direction.

    Of course, maybe my mouse would be a bit more responsive if my mousepad wasn’t actually a cutting board with a T-shirt wrapped around it. But that’s just how I roll.

    1. PowerGrout says:

      “with a T-shirt wrapped around it”?!?! – yikes, how tight you gotta wrap that to stop the T-shirt material from squirreling about? – I had a plain cutting mat (one of those green ones right?) which tracked just fine and had almost ideal friction but it made my wrist cold and was too thick (and with an abruptly sharp edge too).
      Chuck it all out and bodge yourself a new desktop out of one of those really cheap softwood dining tables with the the weird teflon varnish from IKEA.

  23. I’m confused…
    Is Josh complaining the Wolfenstein is too hard (i.e. he sucks) ?
    Or is Josh too conditioned to modern shooters with auto heal and auto aim and so on?


    For the record I myself tend to always play on Easy or lowest setting, if a game had Godmode I’d probably choose that.
    I also use a trainer or dev console or Cheat Engine or similar.
    Then again most of the games I like are story focused powertrip/moviehero style so it still feels right even with cheats.

  24. Dovius says:

    It is actually somewhat explained why the Da’at Yichud have vaults of this crap lying around: They believe that in inventing and creating this over-advanced mad science they come as close to truly understanding and appreciating God as possible. However, aside from creating them to explore the possibilities of the technology itself, they have no interest in utilizing it, which is why they lock it up.

    Of course, it begs the question of why they don’t just destroy an invention once they finish it instead of hiding it somewhere, but at least they tried to explain it.

    It should also be noted that the Da’at Yichud weren’t an all-powerful Jewish conspiracy that the Nazis feared due to that same ideal: They’re quite powerful, but have no interest in wordly affairs unrelated to their own rituals. The only direct interference with the world at large that I could find in the game was that once they figured out that the Nazis had gotten hold of one of their caches and started reverse-engineering stuff, they instantly started working with the allied forces to try and counter-act the damage. They were too late to turn the tide of the war, but they tried.

    A possible non-violent application of stuff from the vault is actually shown in-game. The mechanical suit they find allows Caroline, a paraplegic, to regain normal movement. It’s overpowered for it, but it’s not inconceivable that variations of it could be used for rehabilitation and assisted movement in case of injuries or defects.

    1. That almost sounds like the Discworld character, Leonard of Quirm, who invents things that could be used for incredibly destructive purposes but has a hard time with the idea of people being evil enough to put them to that use. He’s therefore kept locked away in the royal palace by Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork:

      Leonard of Quirm never dreamed that he was a prisoner. If anything, he was grateful to Vetinari for giving him this airy work space, and regular meals, and laundry, and protecting him from those people who for some reason always wanted to take his perfectly innocent inventions, designed for the betterment of mankind, and use them for despicable purposes. It was amazing how many of them there were – both the people and the inventions. It was as if all the genius of a civilization had funnelled into one head which was, therefore, in a constant state of highly inventive spin. Vetinari often speculated upon the fate of mankind should Leonard keep his mind on one thing for more than an hour or so.

      – from “The Fifth Elephant,” by Terry Pratchett

      1. Retsam says:

        Ah, you beat me to the Leonard of Quirm reference. That was my thought too on the “pacifist build obviously weapons, but don’t see the weapon implications of their invention”.

  25. Steve C says:

    Anyone know why my mp3 player will happily play the music from the diecast but refuses to play any of the voice? (Other than my mp3 player sucks.) It’s a Sony NWZ-B173F

    1. Anon says:

      That’s an odd problem. Does it play correctly on your computer?

      1. Steve C says:

        Yup. Plays fine on my computer. The mp3 player plays other podcasts without issue. For the diecast specifically, it just plays 30sec of intro music, followed by an hour+ of silence and then 30sec of exit music.

    2. The only thing I can assume is that the Diecast is mixed with the music in one channel and the vocals in another, and the mp3 player isn’t playing the second. Did Shamus ever do a blog post about how he mixes the audio for the podcast?

      If by some weird technomancy your mp3 player is able to completely filter out vocals from audio tracks, there are loads of people who do pop song mashups that would probably kill to have your device in their hands.

    3. Evilmrhenry says:

      So, somehow one side of the stereo track has been inverted and the two sides have been combined into one. How? I’m not sure. This is the standard technique for removing vocals from music, and it gives perfect results here as the vocals are mono.

      Make sure your headphone/speaker jack is inserted all the way. I’ve heard that can cause this. Maybe there’s a setting to remove vocals somewhere?

  26. Canthros says:

    1. I thought I’d heard that House of Wolves was delayed to May.
    2. No Land Beyond is a bit more reminiscent of a Mosin-Nagant (the M1 Garand is semi-automatic). I recall the noises on the Bungie forum mentioned Vasily Zaitcev, but I don’t know enough about the Mosin, Zaitcev, or NLB to know what the parallels are. (Sorry. I’m a gun nerd. It gets out, sometimes.)

    I’ve sort of checked out of Destiny. It’s a pretty solid shooter, but there’s only so many hours in the day and it seems like nobody I know is still playing.

  27. SlothfulCobra says:

    Listening to Destiny players is like listening to chain smokers who hate the taste and smell of cigarettes, the fact their teeth are yellowing, and really don’t want to get lung cancer.

    It’s so bad, but they just can’t stop sinking time into it.

  28. topazwolf says:

    Well Chris, I had to double check but it was me that sent you the Landmark thing. The sad thing is that I literally had to look at my gift history to make sure. I only remembered when you said something about it.

    Anyways, I thought it was something you might find neat to talk about, but I highly doubted you would want to play it. I frankly only bought the game to support Everquest since I have fantastic memories of it and really want to see a new one. To be honest, I quit playing it when the checking my rent thing became too much of a hassle. (I played for about 26 hours, it was fun but not worth the trouble)

    Also, no need to apologize. I forgot I gave it to you and I never really thought you would like it. To be frank I only kind of like it. It was merely something I thought you may enjoy discussing with the others at some point. I would love it if it had a single player creative mode, but alas it does not.

  29. Phantos says:

    Come to think of it, a lot of console shooters I’ve played also had really awful checkpoint systems and placement.

    “Here’s an area where you have to kill 12,000 guys at once with no cover. They all have the BFG from Doom. Oops, you died 3 hours later after killing 11,999 dudes, SO NOW YOU HAVE TO START ALL OVER AREN’T VIDEO GAMES FUN”

    Yeah, I exaggerate, but it sure feels that way in games like Halo and Battlefield at least. My guess is they don’t have manual saves in games anymore because that would be another thing to playtest. But I don’t remember this being a problem in the Half-Life series at least.

    Which is ironic, because the worst I’ve seen of it is in Left 4 Dead, which is partly why I’ve lost all faith in Valve as a game developer. I understand not having checkpoints or manual saves in the online modes, obviously. But not having that s*** in the single-player, offline campaign is unacceptably stupid.

    (I was going to mention this in the latest Spoiler Warning episode, but I actually shudder to think of how bad Half-Life 3 would be if we ever did get it. I really do feel like everyone in the industry forgot how to make a decent FPS.)

    1. Ivan says:

      I don’t know, I think you’re holding L4D to standards that it simply wasn’t designed for. It was never meant to be a single player game, it was always designed to be a multiplayer co-op experience.

      First off, any given campaign shouldn’t take you more than an hour if you’re taking your time and you don’t get wiped (and as little as 12-20 min if you try to speed run it). That said most of these are broken up into about 5 chapters which you can start at from the loading screen, and some are shorter with only 3. With that in mind, a checkpoint (saferoom) every 12 min seems reasonable to me though I guess it is a bit on the long side so far as checkpoints go, but considering that the game is about surviving and resource management it starts to look much more reasonable again. This is not a long game at all and really does not need a save system. Also considering that there is no difference between multiplayer and single-player maps, there are only three reasons I could see as to why you’re playing single-player at all.

      First being if you don’t want to deal with other people but still want to mow down hordes of zombies, second is that you want to practice/explore the maps without other people bothering you to keep moving, and third being that you don’t want to group up with random people to try to complete an expert campaign.

      There’s really no reason to need to save for either of the first two reasons, I mean if you’re not trying to go for the expert achievement then you might as well turn down the difficulty if you get stuck.

      I can kinda see a justification for allowing you to save progress during an expert campaign but if you don’t care about the achievement then you can start on any chapter with only a minor handicap (you might be given a selection of T1 guns and you’ll have no grenades or pills barring a few specific saferooms) which may or may not actually put you better off than if you had played up to that point anyways(you have full health and four medkits). And if you do want the achievement then you have exactly the same challenge as everyone else, that is to complete the campaign in a single sitting from start to finish (can you even be awarded achievements in offline mode?).

      L4D was never designed as a single-player game and personally I wouldn’t expect to complete a game on expert with bots anyway. Saying that valve doesn’t know how to make a single player game any more and using L4D as an example seems really silly.

  30. Phrozenflame500 says:

    I played on Hard and I pretty much had the complete opposite experience. The normal meatmooks go down super easy, the shotgunners are armored at the front but not too spongey. The bigger robots are spongey, but that’s because you’re supposed to hit their weakpoint on their backs which kills them in one hit. I never had any checkpoint problems, and I used the Laser cannon probably the least among all the weapons.

    It’s weird, I’ve never disagreed so completely with one of you before. Normally I at least see where you’re coming from, but I was lost for the most part.

    I do agree that the “Jew conspiracy” thing raised my eyebrows. I mean, it’s supposed to be a beign, isolationist, Jew conspiracy but yeah it was a bad idea. I was surprised because the concentration camp scene was actually done pretty well.

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