Diecast #109: Mailbag

By Shamus Posted Monday Jun 22, 2015

Filed under: Diecast 100 comments

It’s a mailbag this week! I think we answered around 33% of the questions. I’m starting to think we need to do this more often. Once again, I’ve wiped the slate clean so if your question didn’t make it, it’s time to re-word or re-send if you’re still looking for an answer.

Another week, another apology for wonky audio. I’m really frustrated now because I have the right tools but I keep making dumb newbie mistakes. This week I left a fan on. Not one of those “whisper quiet” fans. And this thing wasn’t sitting across the room from me. This was a roaring box fan, right at my feet. Why? Why did I not turn off the fan?

Audio editing got rid of the worst of it, but the ghost of the sound is still there when I talk. And I’m sure you’ll hear it now that I made a big deal about it. Don’t worry, I’m sure in another 109 episodes or so I’ll figure out how to run this show.

Direct link to this episode.

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

Hosts: Shamus, Campster, Josh, and Mumbles.

Show notes:

1:00 MP3 vs. OGG

Is Shamus willing to dig into the server logs and tell us what the
percentages are between the Diecast’s various delivery methods? How do
MP3 compare to Ogg, etc…

Peter H. Coffin

3:00 Turn-based Systems and the Witcher on Spoiler Warning.

Dear Diecast
I heard you talking about turn-based systems and mechanics and it got me wondering if any of you played Jagged Alliance 2?
Also, (when) can we expect Witcher 3 Spoiler Warning season?
Best regards.


8:00 Design-a-Vault!

Dear Diecast,

If you could design a vault in the new Fallout 4 game, what would it look like? What kind of bizarro scientific experiment would be fun to uncover?

Also, since I sent this for Mumbles, who would win a wrestling match between crows and squirrels?

Thanks for your wonderful podcast,
The Fighting Doll

23:00 Next Gen.

Dear Diecast

My Question is about “Next Gen”.

So we all know what next generation graphics are going to look like, peers out of the window and sighs.

What does everyone think next generation mechanics should look/play like?

If we have “twice the power” of the previous gen, can we render 2 of the previous gen games at once to do strange overlapping levels?
Less polygons more fluid animations?
Being able to create more complex AI or Simulations?
Or just the ability to never have to see a loading screen ever again.


Michelle in England

34:00 The Hinterlands

Dear Diecast
What makes you able to play and enjoy the Witcher 3 or Skyrim, but makes you get stuck in the Hinterlands in Inquisition for hours?
– Christopher

45:00 Books that expand on the lore of a game.

Deer Diecast.

Catching up on the Witcher games and watching the hangout, I noticed how the games make inevitable callbacks to the books.

My question is, what do you think about books that expand on the lore of a videogame? (lumping together videogames based on books and vice versa as well as books accompanying games).

Also if Josh could tell us real quick if the books are worthwile for fans of the witcher games.


This is the SuperBunnyHop that Chris mentioned:

Link (YouTube)

And here is the Vine that Mumbles made for Chris.

55:00 Ruby Tuesday.

Dear Casters of all things Pod,

Why do video games always come out on Tuesdays? How did that start?

Best regards,


From The Archives:

100 thoughts on “Diecast #109: Mailbag

  1. Benjamin Hilton says:

    On Game Novels: I always enjoyed getting extra lore and Background to the stories I liked, and in general just see it as a way to give the people who want it more story.

    The only time I think it didn’t work was with Gears of War 3 because the set up for that game Along with allot of the new characters were only ever introduced in the novels. As a reader of the novels I thought it was very cool but knew instantly that most people would be very confused.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,you dare to call yourself a turn based strategist,and you havent even played jagged alliance 2.For shame.

    1. MrPyro says:

      Is JA2 the best of the series? I’ve been meaning to pick up one of them to give a go, but I wasn’t sure if 1 or 2 was the better of the games.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        There were a bunch of remakes and Ive tried a few,but neither caught me,so yeah I say 2 is still the best.Though I didnt try all the remakes,so you should check the reviews for them.

      2. SpiritBearr says:

        “Back In Action” is basically JA:2 but real time pausable. I found it fun once I started setting everyone in guard mode. It’s glitchy but dumbed down more than X:Com: Enemy Unknown was. It was fun once you get going though.

        “Flashback” is turn based but a failure.

      3. DeadlyDark says:

        JA2 is the best and stays with likes of first X-COM and Fallout. Continuations BiA or FB not as good, even remotely closely. The only other game that come close is Brigade E5 (and it’s sequel 7.62), but it’s more on gameplay manner (what they done with smart pause system, it’s so perfect, though for someone that could be too… simulatorish; and gunporn in these games is unprecedent), while JA2 have characters and deeper strategy gameplay and tactic battles they do play smooth, so I love JA2.

    2. ColeusRattus says:

      Yeah, Jagged Alliance 2 is the best turn based tactics/RPG hyprid there ever has been!
      And it has a sweet merceneries theme to it, as you are recruited to topple a south american despot. And all the sweet interactions bewteen various members of your team!

      It is the game I have completed the most often, allbeit never getting into mods and community expansions that both expand it greatly and fix it’s issues.

      You should do a spoiler warning on that. I think it might actually be very interesting if all of you went in blind, not knowing anything about the game and it’s systems.

      1. Andy_Panthro says:

        Anyone that has played and loved Jagged Alliance 2 should really try the 1.13 mod, which adds and tweaks a whole bunch of amazing things. Also allows for editing various things (not sure how easy that is in the original, but it’s easier with the mod I think)


        Not recommended for new players though, I’d definitely recommend playing it without mods first.

  3. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Actually, consoles have never had top-of-the-line PC specs even at launch. They make up for lacking raw horsepower by having a standard environment that games can be super-optimized for, but both the 360 and the PS3 had underwhelming processors and a small amount of RAM (The 360 had a 512MB pool that could be used for graphics or for system memory, while the PS3 had 256MB system RAM and 256MB video RAM).

    It’s much less about the overhead of Windows and more about Windows have more layers of abstraction between the game and the hardware.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      And to correct another point they made, PS4 has 8GB GDDR5 RAM, but XBone has 8GB of DDR3.

      Furthermore, XBone leaves 5GB to the developer (the rest is system reserved memory) and PS4 leaves 4.5GB. But of course GDDR5 has higher bandwidth (though I thought I read that DDR3 has better seek times?)

      1. Eruanno says:

        Actually, I believe the PS4 lets developers have between 4.5 and 5 GB of RAM. (For some reason the link says “PS3”, I don’t know why)

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          I think it keeps changing. For example, I know a recent update has made it so that developers can access system memory previously dedicated to the Kinect when developing Kinect free games. And both companies will be shifting from 28 nm to 20 nm architecture on new copies of their current consoles, XBone will go first which may give it a temporary advantage over PS4.

  4. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I believe it wasn’t just a gambling based economy in the New Vegas vault. They used gambling for dispute resolution (in lieu of civil court cases I’d guess). In fact, I remember the dispute resolution part and have no memory of the Vault girl mentioning using gambling for transactions.

    1. IFS says:

      It was also populated originally entirely by gambling addicts, which to me makes them sticking to that tradition make more sense.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Even better. That borders on being an actual intriguing experiment for a society. I can only imagine a society mediated by a shared compulsion. Might be better than what we have.

        1. Felblood says:

          One could construct an argument to the effect that violence, and (to a lesser degree, as not everyone seems born with this compulsion) sports, are exactly this.

  5. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Novel tie-ins:

    The early Halo books were pretty good. So was the Forerunner trilogy. Quality control went downhill, though, and I eventually gave up on them.

    I never felt like they were really necessary until after Halo 3, though. Halo 3 put a lot of it’s lore in the terminals, and if you hunted them down they’d explain what was actually going on. But post-Halo 3 I have no idea WTF is going on.

    Warhammer 40k books are hit or miss.

    1. MrPyro says:

      Warhammer 40K books you really have to find a good author; because they have a few authors writing for them the books really vary in quality. Much like Star Wars tie-in novels; some of them are by Timothy Zahn and excellent, while some are by Kevin J Anderson and… less so.

      Dan Abnett is probably the best author writing 40k novels at the moment; I highly recommend the Gaunt’s Ghosts books.

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        Sandy Mitchel’s Caiphas Cain novels are also awesome. Early Horus Heresy novels were also good. I say early because I haven’t read the later and they don’t all heve the same writter.

      2. Mersadeon says:

        That’s true, they really vary in quality. I’d say, if someone is new, they should buy one of the books that has lots of shortstories by different authors in it, that really helps picking an author that fits.

        But even then, some stuff is really weird. I’ve read many books by one author (Aaron Dembski-Bowden), and even though I really love most of it, there is one book so phenomenally boring I couldn’t believe it’s by the same guy: Battle for Helsreach.

        WH40K literature is vast in scope, but also varies in quality, unfortunately.

      3. Felblood says:

        I would actually encourage new readers to start with Abnett’s Eisenhorn Trilogy. The whole trilogy available pretty cheap as an omnibus. It’s a more contained story with clear arcs for the lead characters, and it really showcases how much he matured as a novelist since he first made the jump from tie-in comics to tie-in novels.

        Everything else there I agree with, except for the part where you implied that Timothy Zahn was a good writer, and people should read his books. I must have mis-read that, as I would otherwise have to suggest that you should have yourself tested for harmful brain parasites.

    2. The Specktre says:

      Yeah, pretty much the best thing to ever happen to Halo was Eric Nylund who gave us the core of the expanded lore with his three books. There are a couple of worthwhile short stories but everything else is crap or retcons or both. Contact Harvest retcons how the war between humans and Covenant started, but gave us a great reveal on why it started in the first place. Greg Bear was the second best thing to happen to Halo with his Forerunner trilogy. If you really wanted the mystery of the Forerunners spoiled for you, he did a great job telling that story–with some nice nods to the Halo 3 terminals thrown in (although his story doesn’t entirely jive with them). Then Karen Traviss came along and completely ruined Halsey. Then 343i looked at the damage, nodded, said, “Let’s make that the Halsey who appears in the new games,” and went to lunch.

      Nylund’s stories, while I personally consider them essential, are relatively self-contained from the events of Halos 1-3. 343i’s Halo 4 threw bits and bobs in without actually trying to make sure it was coherent, then added bad comics, more books, multiplayer lore, podcasts, and everything else on top of it. It’s a total mess. You need to go every which way if you really want to make sense of it. I want to take an axe to their multimedia process.

      1. jekyll44 says:

        My god, by the time I was done watching the Spartan Ops cut-scenes I was rooting for Halsey to betray humanity. Clearly we as a species do not deserve to stop the Halos from firing when people like Sarah Palmer are allowed to be in charge.

        1. The Specktre says:

          Oh my gosh, yes. Sarah Palmer was such a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad, and idiotic character. In single player she’s a non-entity who takes no initiative and whines about having to do a job that, as a Spartan, she should be more than capable of accomplishing (but sends you, the Chief, to single-handedly tackle instead). In Spartan Ops she’s malicious, self-righteous, and so unbelievably, short-sightedly stupid. I am ever so sorry Jennifer Hale had to voice her. It was so incredibly cathartic when one of the comic authors had Halsey return and school Palmer like there was no tomorrow before running off again. Ideally, this exchange should never have had to happen in the first place, but at least someone had the sense to do it–if only we could’ve had it in the game.

          I highly doubt Halsey is actually betraying humanity however. She’s more likely to play whatever side she needs in order to use the Janus Key to find the Absolute Record. But then, I also saw a brief glimpse of a cutscene from a Halo 5 trailer where she’s standing around a table with Lasky and Palmer, so who knows how they got together again. If the game doesn’t acknowledge events of the comic (and it likely won’t) and has Palmer sneering at Halsey again, I am going to lose it–I don’t know how much more I can take.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Nice outro.

    1. Scott Schulz says:

      May we please have this piece up on Soundcloud? I think it’s your best piece yet. Love the piano mashing: it reminds me of the string arrangement in Dar Williams’ “The Pointless Yet Poignant Crisis of a Co-ed” ( https://youtu.be/QgXYX35vn4Y ).

      1. Supahewok says:

        I’m next to certain he already used this outro for a while several months ago on the Diecast, back when he was experimenting with music. I don’t recall which particular Diecasts he used it in, but it might already be uploaded to Soundcloud somewhere, dated back then.

        1. Scott Schulz says:

          Thanks, Shamus. I do think the piece holds up even outside the context of Spoiler Warning fandom, though I’d love to hear the reaction of someone who has not heard the show to confirm. Your sense of humor does come through here, and while that tends to be undervalued in music, it’s something I appreciate.

        2. Disc says:

          If Ruts actually ever does freestyle, I’d love to hear him having a go at something like this:


          You could do it with stuff you see in a game, for example.

  7. TheMich says:

    Witcher 3 is definitely too long to do an entire season, but maybe it would be cool to do a one-off week in which you just do a contract or two, or maybe even a main quest which is really representative of the game.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      A vertical slice of a Lets Play, if you will.

    2. SpiritBearr says:

      Which is what they did for the hangout.

      1. Thomas Adamson says:

        Except that wasn’t main cast.

        I watched 5 minutes and it was mainly Glitch mike-spamming bullshit about Wendy’s Chicken Sandwiches.

        1. Gruhunchously says:

          Hey! You watch what you say about the Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, heretic.

        2. You missed one of the best delayed-reaction trolls on Glitch, though. He mentioned he’d done some computer modeling (creating objects in 3D). He was then asked in chat something like, “You’ve done modeling? For Calvin Klein? GQ?” He started in on a fairly extensive dialog about his godlike body and so forth before realizing it was a joke about his earlier comment.

          Also, Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwiches are awesome. I wish I had two or more of them right now, actually…

  8. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I mentioned in a comment last week that Harley Quinn squicks me out the sexier she is portrayed. That all goes back to how she’s introduced in the No Man’s Land novel. Realizing just how far gone she is, it was uncanny valley fanservice. And they portrayed her as kind of nasty

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There is one thing about loading screens (sort of) thats been bugging me for a while now:
    When you install an mmo these days,you can start playing it practically the instant you start the download.The game downloads the main menu,character creation and maybe the tutorial,and you can fiddle with that for a while,while the rest of the download is going on in the background.So why arent single player doing this as well,with their current ridiculous 30-60 minutes install times?

    1. Phill says:

      Actually the ps4, if not other platforms, has a requirement for all developers that the game can be launched and played after a certain amount had been downloaded. I think it was around 1GB, but don’t quote me on that. If your game is bigger than that, you have to organise the game data and download so that players can start the first levels or whatever your game has) at that point.

      Which is a pain for developers.

      But in general, if it’s not something you are forced to do, why would you do it? It it’s more development time, and a laundry list of potential new bugs. And people already complain about games being produced and buggy.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yeaah,remember when customer satisfaction was the top priority.

        1. Phill says:

          Nope. ;)

      2. modus0 says:

        The Xbone allows you to start playing some of the game before the entire thing is downloaded as well.

        Though it apparently does the multi-player portions last, which makes sense to mitigate bandwidth competition.

      3. Eruanno says:

        I’m pretty sure Xbox One lets you do this too.

    2. AileTheAlien says:

      Starcraft 2 does this too. You can start playing when the game is like, 20% downloaded.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yeah,after so long with wow,blizzard has implemented that feature into practically all of their games.Diablo 3 would give you first chapter rather quickly.

  10. HeroOfHyla says:

    Whenever someone says Jagged Alliance, I think of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (the hack and slash one), and get extremely confused.

    1. Jakale says:

      I have the same issue when people say Rogue Legacy. I always think Rogue Galaxy, which is a very different game.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        And now youve got me thinking about galaxy quest.

        1. Corpital says:

          At least you’re not triggered by quest for Quest 64. Such a bad game, it’s endless meh-ness forever burned into my brain.

      2. Humanoid says:

        Star Wars games in general get me confused. I saw people getting all excited about this new Battlefront thing at E3 and thought “didn’t they release that ages ago?” I think I was thinking of the RTS in hindsight. And yes, I thought Rogue Legacy was a Star Wars game too originally.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Actually, they DID release it years ago. I have II, I think for the PS2. They’ve just dropped the numbers on the name now …

  11. Ayegill says:

    About prime number ages, it turns out the life expectancy in the US is 79, which is a prime number. So if we’re talking about prime number ages a person could “expect” to live to, it works out beautifully.

    EDIT: And the worldwide expected lifetime at birth is 71 years, which is also a prime number. Miraculous!

    1. Soylent Dave says:

      In the UK, the ONS have started measuring modal life expectancy (instead of life expectancy at birth) – which at the time of the last census was, for women, 89.

      Another prime!

      (British men spoil it by only living until they’re 85 though)

  12. Joe Informatico says:

    Most physical media content releases on Tuesdays in the US and Canada. This probably started with the music industry, but eventually home video, book publishing, and video games followed suit. A significant exception is comic books, which generally release on Wednesdays, but comic book distribution in North America is dominated by a single company (Diamond), who presumably can do what they want or have their own reasons for Wednesdays.

    There doesn’t seem to be a clear explanation for Tuesdays, but it’s discussed here and here. Whatever the original reasons, the distributors and POS-tracking schemes (e.g., Nielsen SoundScan, BookScan, etc.) are probably fairly set in their ways at this point, as is the marketing/hype cycle.

    1. Hitch says:

      I know Tuesday used to be the day for book and newsstand releases, (it may still be, but I know it used to be) and that had been going on since time immemorial (not the 6th of July 1189, but the more vernacular meaning) so I doubt anyone can give a definitive reason for why, and I always assumed that at some point software publishers decided to follow suit.

      1. ccesarano says:

        From my time working at GameStop it was largely that shipments were sent out Monday and arrived Tuesday. I think this is less the case now as Nintendo games tend to release on Friday and stores get highly anticipated titles before the weekend as well so they can do midnight releases.

  13. Eric says:

    I would imagine that the percentage of MP3 to OGG is probably skewed by the fact that OGG is just not well known and I don’t even know if people’s OSes support OGG by default. Given equal choice between the two, or even putting OGG higher up on the download page, I’d still suspect MP3 would beat it out at least 10:1.

    I always download the OGGs due to the lower file size.

    1. AileTheAlien says:

      Also, it’s open source! Hurray! :D

      1. AileTheAlien says:

        Derp. I should have said, “open standard”. Anyone can build a program to play OGG files, which is closed-source.

    2. Supahewok says:

      I stream the OGG link because the MP3 stream would kill itself on Chrome halfway through about a year back. I haven’t tried it since to determine whether that issue persists, because OGG works. I wasn’t the only one with this problem either…

      1. mwchase says:

        Same. It would always conk out around ten minutes in.

    3. DrMcCoy says:

      Also probably doesn’t help that there’s a big “Direct link to this episode” link to the MP3, while the Ogg Vorbis is small, under the player, under yet another MP3 link. And the RSS feed also links to the MP3 only.

      So you basically have to make a conscious choice to grab the Ogg Vorbis, while people who don’t care probably just grab the MP3 without thinking.

      Me, I make that conscious choice, but I’m one of those free software zealots, after all.

    4. Paul Spooner says:

      If my stats are any indication, mp3 and ogg are downloaded just about evenly. Which would mean that approximately 500 people listen to the diecast.

    5. Zak McKracken says:

      Since I switched to using RSS, I’m not given a choice in the matter … would choose ogg otherwise (and did before I moved to RSS).

      As far as I can tell, pretty much any OS and device supports ogg these days, although they’re often not mentioning it because most potential users don’t know or care. Android plays ogg on the os level (thus all audio players for android support it, at least all the ones I tried, and they were a few), VLCm winamp, and even the windows media player do, anything on Linux also supports it of course, and most browsers probably do, too. There may be a few “hardware” MP3 players who don’t play ogg but my impression is that many players who don’t say it on the box still do.

      => I think that if you switched to ogg only, only a few percent of listeners would have a problem listening to it in the same way they normally do.
      I’m not suggesting you actually switch to ogg-only (because pissing off a few percent of the listeners would still not be a nice thing) — but it’d be interesting to see what happened if ogg became the default. Not much, I think

  14. gresman says:

    Hi there!
    Small release date anecdote from out of the industry. Please take these opinions with a truck load of salt.

    The company I worked for always tried to release either on a Tuesday or a Thursday. The reasoning was something like the following:
    Monday is not good due to us coming out of the weekend and there may be not enough time for last minute testing and so on.
    Tuesday is nice if everything necessary for the release was finished on Monday and nothing new crept up.
    Wednesday was mostly some weird day reserved for post mortem stuff and possibly ficing issues found in a Tuesday release for a Thursday fix.
    Thursday was a good day for releasing fixes, patches or content due to Friday still being left for fixing and further patching if something went wrong.
    Friday is no good due to everyone already being a bit woozy in the brain and shortened hours. Furthermore if something went wrong the earliest day for fixing and checking stuff would be Monday of next week, which is not great for the customer.

    This is mostly based on my experience. Please keep in mind that I worked in a company with about 50 employees at the peak of our employeecount.

    I hope I could shine some light onto this issue.

    1. silver Harloe says:

      Agreed, for releasing non-boxed software in a server environment, our reasoning for Tuesday was:
      * best to do it early in the week, so there are actually developers around when the users call in tomorrow to let you know it was bugged.
      * Monday is all catching-up-on-weekend email, bug reports, meetings, launch prep. Also if your software is for businesses, likely to be your heaviest traffic day as users check up on status and make sure the weekend went well.

      ergo, Tuesday. If you have a major issue and need a revert, you can try again Wednesday or Thursday at the very latest.

  15. Vault 21 didn’t have everything reliant on gambling. It was that any disputes for how the Vault was run would be determined by gambling. It’s how when House approached them, the decision was made over a game of Blackjack as to whether or not to accept his offer.

    1. SpiritBearr says:

      They say everyone was named Garry not that Garry was a bunch of clones whose original survived with out the same science as Bruan and House (stupid 200 years).

    2. RagingInternetCommenter says:

      A vault full of vault-tec executives!!! It’ll be a monument to stupidity!

  16. For you, the release of Sonic 2 was the worst day of your life…

  17. Corpital says:

    I once had a really good question about zombie games. Wrote it on a piece of paper while drunk and then lost the paper somehow.

    Speaking of great thing lost in tragedy and alcohol: ten minutes reading the Dwarf Fortress forums and you’ll have enough ideas for vault until Fallout 7.

  18. James says:

    So Book novelizations are a unique things.

    Some are good written by either real authors, the first 3 Mass Effect BOOKS (not that weird comic) are actually “good”, granted it helps its not about Commander Cardboard, and is written by Drew “holyshit my last name is hard to say” Karpyshyn.

    Some are dreadful the Mass Effect Book by William C, Dietz is pure utter shit, it was so shit Bioware up and declared it non-cannon. this is not to say Dietz is a universally bad writer, apparently given his own content and material he is fine, good even, but given someone else’s he is somehow worse then that Twlight Fanfiction that somehow got made into a book and then a film.

    Then you have the Eve-Online books, for anyone not a hardcore Eve player i would not recommend these to you, there are 2 by Tony Gonzales, and one by CCP’s lead writer Hjalti Danielsson, they are overall serviceable sci-fi but rather dense and thick. after all they are based on a Space Sim.

    So like most books they vary in quality from writer to writer, with the best coming from authors who make a living being authors and not video game writers.

    TLDR: Drew Karpyshyn is the best video game book writer, and i wont hear otherwise.

  19. Joe says:

    I remember a couple of old games, Dungeon Siege 1 & 2, had no loading screens. You could walk right out of the dungeon into town. However, you sort of had to walk right up to the edge of the dungeon map so the game got the hit to load the next outdoor section. Still, points for effort.

    And I agree that the No Man’s Land novelisation was great. I’ve read through it a couple of times.

    You know what game would make an interesting book? Skyrim. The main quest, it’s not a bad story. Needs fleshing out, obviously, but there’s a lot of potential.

    1. John says:

      Didn’t Greg Rucka write that? If I remember correctly, he was a novelist before he turned to comics, so a certain minimal competence in the form is to be expected.

      1. Supahewok says:

        Depends on what drove him to switch mediums…

        1. John says:

          Well, not to knock Mr. Rucka, but I did say minimal.

  20. Weren’t loading screens also a way to reset things as a handy method of housekeeping? It helped get companions un-stuck, hostility levels cleared, etc. in a lot of games.

    1. AileTheAlien says:

      I’d say that in a half-decently made game, there would already be another system to reset those things. e.g. Escort-quest NPCs that follow the player often have shitty AI and pathfinding, so they’ll get stuck on level geometry a lot. However, most games will just detect when they get too far away, and teleport them near the player again, fixing the problem. Usually behind the camera, so the player is less likely to notice.

      1. I was more thinking of clearing out bits and bobs in memory or resetting certain flags. F’rinstance, while playing Skyrim, the game forgot I wasn’t next to a small stream anymore and for the rest of the dungeon I was in, I heard the stream as if I was standing in it. The sound finally went away when I left through the dungeon door loading screen.

        Hopefully they’ll have some “cleanup” system that does a kind of “wipe the slate” thing every so often to remove errors like that.

        1. AileTheAlien says:

          They could also you know, fix the problem properly. :P

          1. From what little I know about coding, this can be a bigger problem than “LOL dumb game devs *fart*.” Getting memory to free up or getting specific memory locations to change when they should can be a bear. Sometimes it’s the OS, sometimes its the coding tools, and sometimes it’s just “stuff happens” because the user is running five apps in addition to the game and something failed to make the game do what it should.

            The loading screen is basically like using a nuke to make sure an area is free of mosquitoes, but there are times when a mosquito or two just won’t leave unless there’s a nuclear fireball encouraging them to find the exit.

  21. Thomas Adamson says:

    “I'm starting to think we need to do this more often.”

    Or you could just add half an hour. Most podcasts run to 1.5-2 hours pretty regularly.

    I’m not sure what the Shamus’ 1hr hard limit is for.

    1. AileTheAlien says:

      I think Shamus mentioned in one of the podcasts, that if they added half an hour, they’d waste that half hour on not answering questions. I don’t mind the dedicated podcasts for questions; Actually makes it a slightly different format from normal, which is refreshing to listen to.

      1. Bryan says:

        Also, adding half an hour of run time means adding … what was it, 5 hours? I thought 10x was the rule of thumb … of editing time.

    2. Humanoid says:

      I also think most podcasts don’t follow their recording session by doing a Let’s Play recording session immediately after.

    3. Supahewok says:

      Shamus spends something along the lines of 3x the recording’s length editing it. So an hour recording is 3 hours of work for him. Adding half an hour to the recording adds an hour and a half to editing. They record on Saturday and release on Monday, so the editing happens on Sunday, which is also the day he needs to write his column for the Escapist. So he can’t fit the extra hour and a half into his schedule.

  22. Vorpal Kitten says:

    “I'm not sure what the Shamus' 1hr hard limit is for.”

    Didn’t he say adding a half hour of diecast costs him like 3 additional hours of editing or something crazy?

    1. Phill says:

      I vaguely remember him saying (a few weeks back when talking about the editing process) that it was non-linear – so each extra block of time you extend the podcast by increases the time to do the editing by ever larger increments. It’s not just a case of double the length of the podcast and double the time to edit it.

    2. Perhaps there’s a way to automate the system? Surely someone has made a plugin for whatever audio editor he uses that does something like “remove any gaps where the noise is below X threshold and lasts longer than Y seconds.”

      It’s kind of like how a lot of radio shows (mostly talk radio, IIRC) were “speeding up” the programs so they could fit in more commercials by using computers to condense the audio via removing gaps, “uh’s,” and taking little slices out of long vowel sounds.

      Also, one thing that might help: Someone (probably Shamus) should get one of those Cricket Clicker things (they’re used to train pets sometimes, or they’re sold as novelties) that makes a fairly loud “snap” noise. Whenever he’s in a spot he’s sure needs to be edited, he can produce the noise that then puts a spike in the waveform, making it easier to find spots that really need to be deleted. People doing audio recordings for books and podcasts will use that trick to mark where they messed up so they don’t have to restart the recording.

  23. Deadpool says:

    Vault 3, Vault 8, Vault 13 and Vault 15 were pretty okay to live in for the most part…

  24. Thomas says:

    I’m surprised by how much Shamus dislikes the vault system.

    I guess for a personal reason it’s a perfectly valid reason to dislike them, I’m not convinced it’s a sign they’re bad though, just not for you. I don’t think you have to be either grounded or Hitchhikers wacky. There’s lots of gradient in-between those things which lots and lots of media occupy (and almost all games).

    I enjoy Vault 11 more than I enjoy Fallout: New Vegas and I love F:NV

    1. Mersadeon says:

      Yeah, that vault stole the show. That was a damn good idea. I like it.

      Actually, I would be fine with a Telltale game set in a vault like vault 11. I think that would be a good idea.

    2. I think he doesn’t like them for the same reason he doesn’t like the Pulaski fallout shelters. “Who would collect the money?” That assumes that (1) they weren’t built under government contract, which they may or may not have been, but I’d say the more likely answer is (2) the company that built them, because air raid siren drills happened all the time during the Cold War and almost every time someone thought it was The Big One about to drop. They’d probably make loads from people panicking and spending their money*. Not to mention it’s a handy place to “accidentally” wind up with your s/o.

      As for the Vaults, the people in charge planned on surviving the apocalypse and would then have (hopefully) data on small groups in confined spaces and/or malleable people ready to be led using whatever conditioning had worked.

      * a better question is that unless coins were the same weight as bottle caps or the coin mechs were very poorly made, why do the shelters (or any coin-op device, like parking meters) accept bottle caps in the first place? They didn’t become currency until after the war.

      1. Thomas says:

        I mean I do accept the idea of vaults is silly, but it just seems like a fairly obvious contrivance of the game to make some themed dungeons and to give them freedom to tell stories with very little set-up. It’s like the TARDIS always landing wherever the next story is going to take place, its silly but that doesn’t mean that the whole story has to descend into Hitchhikers goofball.

  25. Andy_Panthro says:

    The intro temple tutorial in Fallout 2 was not supposed to exist, but was added in later IIRC due to external pressure for a tutorial section.

    The worst part of this is, that the initial village bit is actually very tutorial-like. it’s filled with short quests that you can do to familiarise yourself with the game without running into anything too dangerous, or you can skip almost all of it if you want to get out into the world. The different quests suit different characters too, unlike the temple tutorial which teaches you a few different things (mainly combat though), but suits a combat-oriented character.

  26. Neko says:

    Don’t worry, I obsess over audio quality too. I recently got myself a really nice new mic, which is great, but now … aah! car drove past outside! aah! I can sort of hear a reflection of my voice off the table!. And I just use it for raid chat and the occasional youtube derpage, it’s not like I have a popular podcast and LP series. But if it’s any consolation, I only really obsess over my audio quality, not other peoples’. If it’s good enough to hear and make out what people are saying, it’s good enough.

  27. Christopher says:

    Thanks for answering my Hinterlands question! In retrospect, if I thought about it, I feel like I would have come to the same conclusion. What I really loved doing in Skyrim was going in a random direction and seeing what happened, while what I really loved doing in DAI was Iron Bull. But I have never played the Witcher 3, so I was curious.

  28. rofltehcat says:

    Just listened to the podcast. I usually download the .mp3 directly through the rss feed. No idea if that helps you at all with your user data.

  29. WWWebb says:

    Next Gen features:
    I’ll agree that running robust VR is likely to make it into the next-Gen development cycle. That opens up a couple of other options as well:

    #1- Running WiiU style accessory screens on multiple tablet controllers. There are limited things you can do with only one extra screen, but if EVERYONE has an extra screen, non-twitch multiplayer (party games, picking football plays, baseball pitches) could have a lot of possibilities.

    #2- I’m not sure they’d ever do it, but instead of split-screen coop, you could run a second screen over WiDi, and then two people in the house can use the console at once. It wouldn’t even have to be games. One person can play Shoot Guy XII while another is streaming a movie from the entertainment box.

    The MOST likely use of extra horsepower is better looking multi-player. More power means smoother animation of other players. A lot of games still suffer from that look of “here’s a skin we’re stretching over a tiny packet of vector info”.

    I’d LIKE to see more 3D directional audio, but most people don’t have the setup for it and the headphones that can do it are still as expensive as the consoles.

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