Diecast #117: Mailbag, Text Plays, Licensed Games

By Shamus Posted Monday Aug 17, 2015

Filed under: Diecast 149 comments

Hosts: Josh, Shamus, Joshua, Campster, Josh Viel, Rutskarn, and Cuftburt. Episode edited by Rachel.

Show notes:

1:00 Josh is introduced Josh is introduced Josh is introduced Josh is introduced.

Also in this segment: Josh is introduced.

2:00 KOTOR!

Sadly, nobody was able to unravel the complex web of clues hidden in our ARG-like game and figure out that the next season of Spoiler Warning will be Knights of the Old Republic. Given that we’ve just begun a massive long-form retrospective of Mass Effect, now is a great time to cover this game. The compare and contrast should be interesting.

3:25: Hidden object games.

This wasn’t on the agenda, but we blew five minutes on it anyway because I know we have so many die-hard hidden object fans out there. For the record, this is the Spoiler Warning I was talking about:

Link (YouTube)

9:00 Mailbag: Text plays.

Dear Diecast:
After combing through every Text Play I could get my hands on, I have decided I enjoy that version of the Let’s Play more than it’s video counterpart, and am going to try to make one. For those of you among the cast who have written a Text Play, what would your suggestions be?

Sincerely, lucky7

21:25 Mailbag: Losing is Valid.

Hello Diecommanders,

In Chris’ Errant Signal video on This War of Mine, he praises the game for acknowledging failure as a legitimate part of the game’s possibility space. I was wondering if he (or the rest of you) had any thoughts on XCOM2. Rather than continuing after the players’ victory, the sequel reverses the roles somewhat, with the player controlling a guerrilla XCOM against an entrenched alien civilization that has taken over the world. In order to justify the game as a sequel instead of a spinoff, they’ve essentially said that the canonical ending to XCOM:EU is that the player loses.

Ironman mode and the high-value game over screen suggest to me that the original game was designed so that player failure wouldn’t be invalidated, but canonizing it is an interesting step that I haven’t heard of any other games doing. Any thoughts, folks?

Remember, we will be listening.

–Chauzuvoy (the Unpronounceable)

Here is the Errant Signal in question:

Link (YouTube)

35:28: Mailbag: Games from Movies

Hello Diecast crew!

Recently a friend of mine and I were listing off examples of the worst games we’ve ever played, and most of them were games that were based off of movies. We kept on talking about those games and I mentioned one that had surprisingly good mechanics and fun gameplay that made it a lot of fun to play (it was Shrek 2 just so you know. And it was a gift from a family member). My question is, what makes most of these games horrible to play and is there a way to subvert that terribleness?

Also, out of curiosity, Rutskarn, what do you think of the established settings like Farun and Eberon for any DnD game?


45:38 Mailbag: Universes that need better exploration.

Are there any game-universes whose lore you think deserves a better exploration?


53:40 Josh is introduced.


From The Archives:

149 thoughts on “Diecast #117: Mailbag, Text Plays, Licensed Games

  1. Grimwear says:

    Shamus really needs to stop posting these right before I go to bed. That, or I need to stop checking the site before bed. Or I need to control the insatiable desire to listen to the diecast immediately but that would be crazy and mean I’d need to be responsible for my own actions.

    As for XCOM 2 I find it interesting what they’ve done saying the losing screen is canonical but I’m not the biggest fan of that option. Does that mean the victory ending is therefore developer fan fiction? Personally, and I’ve heard this elsewhere, I’d much prefer the story where you destroy the ship, only to discover it was the vanguard and that humanity is doomed which leads XCOM to go underground and start a guerilla war. The player gets to keep their hard fought victory over the single ship, and the devs get to raise the stakes and make it so that humanity still loses.

    1. Syal says:

      I prefer the version where victory in the first game really does end the threat so the second game assumes it didn’t happen. Saying that victory in the first game inevitably leads to cutscene defeat still serves to invalidate everything you did in the first game, so why not just do that directly? Otherwise you get the tone of Shin Megami Tensei or Diablo, where you never really get to win, you can only slow down defeat.

      (Plus I just like the idea of non-canon canon. First game has some win/lose states, second game assumes one of them happened, then the third game assumes the other one happened. Zelda can’t be the only series to do that, can it?)

      1. Merlin says:

        Yeah, the XCOM 2 approach really strikes me as the best of all possible worlds. It doesn’t cancel out your victory in the first game, and new players aren’t left out in the lurch lore-wise. (Which also means we don’t have a Mega Man situation, where all of XCOM’s plasma rifles mysteriously vanish between games.) I really like the decision to change the framing of the sequel so that we aren’t just fighting a slightly different alien invasion, and this was the ideal way to do it.

        1. Ivan says:

          I actually wish it was a little more drastic. Really I wasn’t impressed with the way the story ended, they spent a lot of time building up all these hard scifi concepts by asking questions like “why abduct people?” “why terrorize a city” “they have such powerful technology, if they wanted to conquer us outright then why haven’t they done so?”. Yes all these questions are answered on the temple ship and it all works, but it all boils down to Humans are special and we were trying to bait you into developing psionic abilities for our nefarious purposes which were not clearly explained. I was really hoping for a more realistic resolution to the story but maybe there really isn’t one.

          In any case, it can be surmised that in XCOM 2 the aliens did bring their full strength against us right away, which would be why the XCOM project failed.

          1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            With that resolution, I assumed the sequel would be “yeah, the chosen one sent the Ethereals packing and saved the world. Alas, psionics and all that extra equipment you developed? Yeah, totally led to a dystopia run by evil mindreading humans who then invited the aliens -the ones the Ethereals were running from -to move in and take over.”

            I mean, the tagline for Enemy Within was “Those who play with the devil’s toys will, bit by bit, find themselves drawn to use his sword.”

            That doesn’t invalidate your victory in the first game, because it was heavily foreshadowed in the first game, and if you say to yourself -“yes, but my people would have resisted this!” Congratulations -they are! That’s the second game.

            1. Brainbosh says:

              I prefer this explanation more than that we just lost the last one. Really, my first thought when I saw it with all the different aliens was that we had won, then someone else came to us in less of a military force and more “friendly”, like in the V series.
              They slowly take control and now it’s the xcom team fighting them and a corrupt government off and regaining the support of the people.
              I honestly find it very hard to imagine that someone would actually write that we lost with the ending they gave us for the first one.

      2. Grimwear says:

        That would be nice if they went the multi-verse route like Aile said. The problem I have is that this feels more the Dragon Age Inquisition with Liliana and Bioware saying o you killed Liliana in your game? Sorry that didn’t happen. Now granted that was a RPG so there’s more focus on story and decisions but here they’re taking away the end of the game that people were striving for. I understand that maybe this is easier since people see the game as just a tactical turn based shooter and never really cared about the story so changing isn’t seen as super damaging but I personally enjoyed the story and when they choose which ending while having their single continuity (most likely they never viewed a conversation like this occurring and didn’t bother planning for it) it kinda sucks for those who did enjoy the plot. As for new players regardless of whether new or old they’ll need an intro sequence which sets the stage so they’ll need to recap what happened, how you lost, and where you are now.

        As an aside I do find it interesting how people care more about lore and story in other games as opposed to XCOM. Is it do to the type of game it with where mechanics are seen as more important than story? Or that it isn’t a RPG where story is the focus so changing it on the player is viewed as more damaging? Personally I’m of the heart that as soon as a story is added in, regardless of quality, I’ll be upset if they start taking things away from the player.

        1. Syal says:

          I think it’s necessary if you’re going to have a bunch of choices in your game; at some point, you can’t support every decision in the sequels anymore, and you either pick one to be canon (“The Wanderer was a nice guy”,”Humans won in Warcraft 2″) or render them all meaningless (“Revan left”, “the moon crushed Morrowind”). The only reason Bioware gets so much more flak for it is because they made it a selling point that they were going to pull it off this time, and they flubbed it.

          And yeah, X-COM probably has some lower standards for the story, partly because X-COM has never taken the story very seriously; EU’s plot is a more cutscene-heavy version of the first game’s plot (in that it has cutscenes this time), and the very second game pitted you against Cthulhu and the Deep Ones.

          Personally I’m disappointed EU’s sequel isn’t based on V. They missed an opportunity there.

        2. Ivan says:

          Really I have no issue with this retcon considering the alternative, that being that after winning, a second wave of aliens comes in and you are overwhelmed. Being that we didn’t get to play that part of the game I think it is more respectful to the player to say that the first game happened in it’s own cannon and XCOM 2 takes place in a different cannon that started with all the same characters. I don’t feel like my experience with XCOM is lessened knowing that I was supposed to louse. Although maybe I’m biased because I loved the story right up until the disappointing end.

          I do feel this is different than an RPG though, where the game is more about letting the player make choices that influence the story. To go back on that and say “no, actually only these choices are cannon” completely destroys the illusion of choice that the game is built on.

          I also really like the retcon of XCOM for simplicity sake. It keeps the story simple and understandable and ensures that the player doesn’t need to know what happened in XCOM to understand XCOM 2. I actually wish that more sequels would spend less effort justifying themselves in front of the previous games and more effort being their own thing. Then more games would be allowed to actually end and have a satisfying arc and conclusion without shoehorning a “to be continued” in there for marketing reasons.

          1. Nimas says:

            Actually, just thinking of it now. I think a ‘second invasion’ could work.

            I think the catch would be that you actually play that too.

            So basically the game would start with you having a full base, all your stuff up and the new group of aliens comes and curb stomps you through the game mechanics already established.

            It’d be even better if you could actually have the save you used from the first game, and basically try to have a sort of defensive battle, the longer you fight, the more stuff you can salvage/more basic people you can save, but the more likely you are to lose your best soldiers. Maybe you pull out immediately just to save your squad, but you then have to start with the clothes on your back cause everything else is ash.

          2. Ringwraith says:

            I’m pretty certain they’ve said XCOM 2 takes place after a version of events where the XCOM project gets crushed fairly early into its campaign, before they start researching fancy technology, and they’ve been surviving underground ever since.
            Until they decide to make it known they were down but certainly not out, and they’re ready for round two.
            Hence why they simply don’t have anything, and probably the fact they’ve managed to steal a large airborne craft to use as a mobile base is probably the reason they’re back to actively fighting the extraterrestrial forces after being scattered for so long.

    2. AileTheAlien says:

      I think the best thing that could happen, is that game devs (not just of XCOM, but of all games) don’t try to make everything canon inside a single universe. Take the comic-book route, and just make everything canon in the multi-verse, and treat each individual story as a thing that may or may not be in the same universe as any other given story. Really, trying to make a super complex universe, that is also engaging, that also keeps all the tidbits of individual stories intact, is a Sisyphean task. Just go with the flow, and be ready to say, “No wait! That happened in an alternate universe!” :)

      Specifically about your point where the first game is just a battle against a vanguard ship – I don’t like that. The reason I don’t like it, is that it’s done, as you put it, to “raise the stakes”. Constantly escalating the conflicts in a story/series, just paints yourself into a corner, where on episode 4 you’re battling space Godzilla God Jesus Cthulu, and you have to put in a metric assload of effort, just to keep everything else keeping up with the huge-scale conflict. I’d be totally on board, with an XCOM series that had a bad-guy-of-the-week flavour. It wouldn’t work forever, but at least we could get say, 4-5 good games out of it, instead of burning out trying to come up with ever-escalating threats.

      1. JakeyKakey says:

        I see where you’re going with this, alternate realities and spin-off XCOMs yes please, but I wouldn’t wish actual ‘comic book continuity’ on my most hated piece of media.

        Multiverse is a nice idea, but (stories that are genuine spin-offs aside) in practice it just ends up one continous clusteruck of a single storyline in which each successive writer decides which parts of story and character development did and didn’t happen which makes any story or character development meaningless in the long run. Even Barbara Gordon now got hit with the uncripple-stick despite the character remaining wheelchair bound for decades as a conclusion of one of Batman’s top five most iconic stories.

        Best way to enjoy anything DC/Marvel is to just try pretend the remainder of the shared universe only exists as much as it needs for the story to make sense (Superman and JLA don’t exist in a Batman story, Spiderman doesn’t hang out with the Avengers) or else the entire things just starts breaking down. Sadly the writers just use it an excuse to have an endless bag of asspulls and the constant cameos and crossovers and events shoved down your throat make you question shit like why are mutants such a big deal on a planet already filled to brim with weird supepowers and alien invasions or why don’t the other fifty Marvel superheroes who live on that exact same block come and help when there’s any ruckus in New York.

        People like to moan about video game writing, but it honestly makes some comic books look like Shakespeare.

  2. Infinitron says:

    canonizing it is an interesting step that I haven't heard of any other games doing

    Depends if you count games that have alternate bad guy campaigns. If you do, Warcraft 1, Star Control 1, maybe more.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      The Zelda Timeline reveals that at least one such ending is canonized.

      WindWaker for example Takes place in the Zelda timeline after Ocarina of Time where Link skipped forward 7 years, letting Ganon overthrow Hyrule and then, after defeating Ganon, never showing up again because the timeline he returned too branched off from this one. In other words, it canonizes a Bad Future).

      This is in contrast to Majora’s Mask which takes place in the new timeline created after Link returns to the past from his adventures and stops Ganon’s evil plot before it can really get going.

      Also, the original three Zelda games from the first up through Link to the Past all take place in a third branch where Link fails to defeat Ganon in Ocarina, basically canonizing his death sort of retroactively.

      I think more games should canonize fail states in sequels. It doesn’t matter how much you do with the “bad” ending of a game, most players seem to reject that if you have a golden ending and they treat that as the real ending akin to reloading your last save after death. They get bent out of shape if there isn’t a way to have your cake and eat it too.

      1. Zukhramm says:

        That’s just Nintendo’s weird ideas though, doesn’t make it canon. Nintendo do not know what they’re talking.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          If anything is canon its what Nintendo says. You’re in full control of your own headcanon but not of canon itself.

          And more and more the recent titles embrace this idea of the timeline.

          1. The Specktre says:

            They recently published the Hyrule Historia within the last few years solidifying what is essentially a variation of the split-timeline theory, so yeah. I kinda like the idea of, “Oh depending on what the hero did in this particular story, then the timeline consists of these games over here, otherwise it’s these games here.” Maybe not for every series, but I think it’s worth exploring.

            1. Wide And Nerdy says:

              Agreed though I will concede to Zuk that this is clearly something they stumbled into several games in and this just so happens to be a way to make all of these games fit together.

              Honorable mention for no good reason to MatPat of Game Theory’s Mario Timeline which posits that Jumpman of Donkey Kong is not Mario, but rather Mario’s father. And Pauline is possibly his mother.

              1. Ivan says:

                That’s the way I heard it, that the Zelda timeline is basically a fan theory that Nintendo adopted. Other than that though they follow the same pattern as a couple other Japanese games I know of. I’m not a big Final Fantisy fan, only having played a handful of those games, but they are constantly inventing entirely new universes with different casts for each game they put out there. Fire Emblem also does this, new cast, new world, new baddie, same mcguffin. I think these games are all better for having separate continuities for each game and not letting the events of the last game write themselves into a corner.

                1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                  That was my first reaction when I heard that fans had created a continuity. Its ridiculous. I get tired of the fanboy obsession with everything having a continuity.

                  But the whole idea of the timeline branching the way it does from the events of Ocarina is actually pretty cool.

                  1. Christopher says:

                    Some of those connections are explicit, too. Wind Waker talks about Ocarina of Time in its intro(and Phantom Hourglass follows on from that, directly). Majora’s Mask is pretty much a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, too. Similarly, I’m quite sure Twilight Princess talks about Ganondorf being banished by the Sages. The specific events of OoT come up a lot.

                    1. Felblood says:

                      Yeah, finally sucking it up and committing to a continuity has opened up new vistas for Zelda writers.

                      It gives them a great excuse to break the mold in ways that would otherwise be butchering sacred cows.

                      It was time for a change.

                2. guy says:

                  I’m pretty sure the official timeline has a three-way split, with Link winning initially, Link winning in the future, and Link losing in the future, while the fan timeline just had a two-way split.

    2. Benjamin Hilton says:

      Off the top of my head the only one I can think of is Mechwarrior 4. Near the end there is an almost Bioware-like morel choice. The expansion pack, Black knight, then plays as if you made the dark choice and your character spends the game trying to overthrow you character from the main game.

      Also the Force unleashed games had semi-canonical DLC for what happened if you went darkside in the first game. Basically Starkiller is way more effective than Vader ever was, and manages kill most of the rebels single handed and even turns Luke to the dark side.

      1. modus0 says:

        I HATED the Mechwarror 4: Black Knight making the “Bad Choice” canon, not due to that being the “bad” option, but because it also led to your Mechwarrior 4 character allying with House Steiner. The same people responsible for the death of the rest of your family, and attempted takeover of your home planet.

        And given the events of Mechwarrior 4, I felt that was completely out of character for that individual to make that choice and made no sense. Why wouldn’t he have called on his existing allies: House Davion?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Ah,so thats where bioware got their inspiration from for mass effect 2.

        2. Benjamin Hilton says:

          Oh, I totally agree. I just mentioned it because it was relevant. But yeah, I checked out at the point where you had to kill Casey. He was one of my favorite characters from the first game and even if the player character did go bad, it made no sense that he would have followed him.

          Maybe this sort of outrage is exactly why the bad ending being canonical doesn’t happen more often.

    3. Jokerman says:

      Metro 2033 springs to mind as a game where the bad ending is cannon over the good ending, which would be weird for anyone who got that good ending.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Im still not going to call that one a good ending though.Nothing ever throughout the game suggest that the dark ones are good.Not to mention that your choice is not in the slightest influenced by your thoughts about them,but rather by some random crap you do throughout the game(playing a guitar,seriously?).Id rather call those two endings in metro reasonable(the canon one)and contrived.

        1. Jokerman says:

          Well, it was the nice ending. It was really weird, almost like it was thrown in last minute for…. some reason.

          Otherwise surely it would have been a choice at the end after learning conflicting theories about the dark ones and deciding which you believe. It almost looked like they were going to do that too, all it would’ve been is a Press button/Walk Away type choice, all done in game.

          Then again… they did the same thing in the sequel, which makes me think it might just be a thought out and planned mess, rather than an accidental one.

        2. JakeyKakey says:

          Nothing about the game actively shows Dark Ones as being bad either. It’s a bait and switch, but one relatively obvious enough to make the plot twist work in terms of them being relatively peaceful mutans with a Lovecraftian influence on people around them. There’s hints and foreshadowing all over the place regarding the world of Metro being overran with various sci-fi supernatural forces that are neither good or evil as much as just natural.

          I wouldn’t say it a straight up good/bad ending either, but if you play Metro as a straight-up generic shooter, you get the generic BLOW UP BADDIES ending. If you immerse yourself in the actual setting (yes, the guitar thing included) and avoid killing, Artyom comes off as more thoughtful, pacifist and open-minded and less of a violent thug killing everything in his path. It’s Spec Ops without the meta ONLY WAY TO STOP THE BAD IS TO NOT PLAY THE GAME and an actual genuine option.

          There’s an argument to be made for the good ending being a tad too FAQ reliant to get, but people are largely just salty most of them blew through it like CoD and consequently didn’t get the ‘good’ ending.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Launching the nuke and then going “Holy shit,maybe I shouldnt have done it!Maybe I should stop it” is not being more thoughtful,pacifist and open minded.Its just tacked on and contrived.

            And this definitely is not “like spec ops with actual options”,because you are never informed how your actions influenced the ending.Deciding to not kill everyone leading to you not shooting the last dark one is fine,that makes sense,but deciding to (not) play the guitar leading to you (not) shooting the last dark one is not.

            I wouldve loved if there were some actual hints throughout the game that dark ones werent as bad as their influence on people suggests,and you actually got to choose based on that.Or if only your interaction with enemies influenced what artyom does in the end,instead of unrelated crap like giving money to beggars,hunting secrets and playing music.And it would be even better if he decided what to do BEFORE launching the nuke(which has its issues even when dark ones arent considered at all).The way it is now however,its just contrived nonsense.

      2. Jokerman says:

        Josh… they totally did not edit you out of this episode, i just have a bad habit of commenting before listening to the podcast :D

      3. GloatingSwine says:

        This is because the ending to the book Metro 2033 is what forms the “bad” ending of the game.

    4. Trix2000 says:

      One that I don’t think as many will think about is the original Shadow Hearts. The two endings differ only in whether or not Alice dies in the very last scene, but it takes a bit of effort (and some Guide Dang It) to manage the good ending. But given the payoff and scenes involved with that track, it’s well worth it to go for (and I suspect many/most people did).

      But in the second game, Shadow Hearts Covenant, it treats the bad ending as canon. Alice is dead and Yuri in his grief ends up settling in a small town, protecting the populace. Or something, I don’t recall some details. In fact, it’s pretty critical to Yuri’s character in the second game since it affects lot of his actions around Karin.

      It goes even a step FURTHER, though, with Covenant’s ‘good’ ending. With timespace going to hell and Yuri finally succumbing to his curse, he’s sent through time and space to… a train station. And what should happen to be arriving in the distance, but the very train Alice was on from the beginning of the first game.

      So in a sense, Shadow Heart’s canon may actually be BOTH endings – one in which Alice dies, but then followed by Yuri going back to the beginning to try again (and get the good ending this time). There’s some weird questions about this concept, but I think it worked fairly well.

    5. wererogue says:

      Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain was the one that sprung to my mind. At the end of the first game, Blood Omen, Kain gets to decide whether to fulfill the role that all of his allies have groomed him for, sacrificing himself and saving the world – or sparing himself to rule a world of terror. At the time, the “good ending” definitely seemed like the canon one to me, and the “bad ending” a side amusement for a bit of catharsis. When Soul Reaver kicked in with “Kain Is Deified” my jaw literally dropped because I thought he’d been dead.

      Some of that was definitely my inexperience with how media is written, but it definitely sticks in my mind as a major twist on a canonical ending.

  3. MichaelGC says:


    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      So was that up there a tease because of that episode,or did Rutskarn screw up this time?

  4. Phill says:

    Having done some Combat Mission AARs (which amount to the same thing as text Let’s Plays), I can very much get behind Josh’s comment about it being the images that take the time. I could knock out a post on a few turns in a matter of minutes, but setting up the images I wanted in game, doing the editing, adding the military symbols and overlay information to indicate e.g. suspected enemy positions, lines of advance, defensive lines etc and uploading the images, combined took hours. It’s a lot of fun – for a while. But I can totally understand getting burned out on it to the point of not finishing a series. Particularly if you want to make something high quality like Josh and Shamus’s series here rather than a much lower standard for series of forum posts.

  5. Corsair says:

    KotoR!? I…I don’t know what to say. This is everything I ever wanted.

    1. James says:

      But is it though, remember this is Spoiler Warning.

      Before i watched the LP of Fallout 3 i loved the game and everything about it. Then Shamus like ass made me think about it and its awfull plot, sure i still like Fallout 3 and it eats hours like only Firaxis can. but man KoTOR… like this is my first real exposure to Bioware RPG’s i hold this as like top 3 games ever made.

      But also this season is going to be sooooo good. this is often concidered to be among the best Star Wars properties ever and often called Biowares best game.

      Also Darth Reginald Cuftburt is going to be a treat to watch

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        *Darth Revanald Cuftbert*

    2. Abnaxis says:

      Heh, I just bought KOTOR on Steam sale, and now they’re Spoilering it. I think it’s the second time I’ve managed to own a game before there was a SW of it (though I still haven’t played it yet) and I’ve never finished as SW game.

      1. Benjamin Hilton says:

        Personally I think this is the perfect time for me to finally get around Kotor II with the Restored Content mod.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          DITTO. Surely if they can get KotOR to work they can get KotOR II to as well, especially with the restored content mod?

          1. Benjamin Hilton says:

            Hmm I wonder if that would count against their “No Mods” rule or not?

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Same, I replayed the first game earlier this year and have been toying with the idea of replaying the second one with the mod and this could just be the incentive I need. Isn’t the Restored Content available through Steam Workshop now?

    3. Wide And Nerdy says:

      I feel like we’re finally going to discover once and for all that the Emperor never had any clothes, that Bioware was never that great and only gets as much credit as it does for being kind of the first to do various things the way they did.

      Most of their earlier games are remembered as being great but each one, aside from maybe Baldurs Gate 2, has big gaping problems.

      1. Daimbert says:

        I don’t think this will happen here. I’m actually almost finished a reply of KotOR (started LONG before this was announced) and it’s holding up pretty well in terms of how much fun it is. Sure, you may be able to find more flaws in the story and gameplay in hindsight, but it’s still a lot of fun to play.

      2. Merlin says:

        The saving grace I see for revisiting kotor is that some of the issues will be chalked up to Star Wars goofiness rather than Bioware goofiness. (With a side of d20 goofiness, since it’s basically D&D under the hood.) I did really enjoy it at the time, but it was also my first Bioware game, before I became the grizzled curmudgeon you know and begrudgingly tolerate.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          That it was DnD based tickled me when I first played it. I played the Neverwinter Nights games and KOTORs all around the same time. I needed some 3rd edition at the time. It had been a few years since 4th ed came out basically dividing and scattering my gaming buddies.

  6. Wide And Nerdy says:

    With regards to the movie adaptation question, though I have not played it, supposedly the video game adaptation of the second Sam Raimi Spiderman movie was enjoyable and a good translation of Spiderman’s moveset to game form. Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation still prefers it over other Spiderman games.

    Fitting since the movie was also the best translation of Spiderman to film to date.

    Also, someone in the comments last week did predict that Spoiler Warning would be doing KOTOR. Were you kidding? The way Rutskarn talks sometimes it sounds like he’s being sarcastic when he probably isn’t.

    1. James says:

      Spiderman 2 is considered the best licence game ever, and i loved it.

      Granted that list is basically

      Batman Arkham : (Anything not origins)
      Spiderman 2
      Rainbow Six
      The Walking Dead
      Goldeneye (007) – The n64 version
      KoTOR and KoTOR 2

      And like only 2 of these are based on Films (Goldeneye and Spiderman 2) the rest is just in universe tie ins.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I’m torn on whether Deadpool really belongs on that list. I enjoyed it and it certainly had tons of humor but the gameplay was kind of bog standard and it had some issues (like lack of button mapping which meant I never used the teleporter in combat [I did use it on platforms as needed] because I play left handed on KBM and Deadpool will mock you constantly about not teleporting).

        Also, by all reports (though I’ve not played it) South Park Stick of Truth belongs on the list being probably the first game ever to perfectly capture the visual style of its source material (you’d think that wouldn’t be hard but it hadn’t been done before) and pretty much everybody I’ve read says the writing is exactly like the show.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Yup,the stick of truth was great.Full on south park.

          Deadpool had atrocious controls for keyboard and mouse.And it didnt develop some levels nearly enough.But it was spot on humor wise.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            Agreed. And they even worked in some great moments with button prompts and humorous moments that are uniquely Deadpool

            For example, we might joke about something being so boring we want to shoot ourselves, but Deadpool is both easily bored AND can afford to actually shoot himself in the head to escape boring exposition.

            And the moment slapping Wolverine was just classic. Especially since they invite the player to participate.

            Nolan North was brilliant. I almost wish they’d get him to dub over Ryan Reynolds in the upcoming movie and only hesitate because I’d like to see Reynolds pull this off and redeem himself.

        2. James says:

          I actually forgot about Stick of Truth and it should be on the list yes.

          It helps that the plot was written by Parker and Stone, and they went with a gameplay style that was simple and can be waved off as kids imagination playing DnD.

      2. DeadlyDark says:

        Chronicles of Riddick – Escape from Butcher Bay was great game on itself (on par with HL2 of that time), while being great addition to movie universe.

      3. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Wasnt wolverine also a good game?

        1. Christopher says:

          It’s a fun first hour, but that thing repeats itself horribly and is very shallow for the genre. X-Men Origins Wolverine isn’t exactly something I’d recommend, besides the demo.

      4. Andy_Panthro says:

        Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was decent enough (although that’s probably part of the same Lucasfilm exemption that covers Star Wars games).

        There were tons of licensed platformer games too back in the 90s. I seem to remember some of those being fondly remembered, although I have no idea if they were actually good or not (Aladdin perhaps?). Also you had games like Zool and Cool Spot which were basically advertising products (Chupa Chups and 7-up, respectively).

      5. Christopher says:

        I’ll nominate GBA platformers/beat ’em ups Astro Boy Omega Factor and Dragonball Advanced Adventure. The first one had a fun movement system(you could jetpack-dash around in eight directions) and a time travel-based, touching story that integrated with the stage select and new game + options. The second had the ability to play as every non-stationary character in the game and a separate one-on-one mode for bosses. Both were fun, and both were based on ancient manga/anime that didn’t need to tie into anything specific.

        That seems to be the main qualifier for good license based games, considering the Arkham games aren’t movie games. Still, no guarantee. I was real excited for Platinum Games(who I consider the finest maker of 3d beat ’em ups) to make the Legend of Korra game, and that turned out terribly. Given nothing to work with, even the best developers can’t make a good game.

      6. Soylent Dave says:

        Aliens versus Predator

        (the first PC fps version, although the remake is pretty solid – and of course at the time this was a tie-in to Aliens and Predator franchises (or the AvP comics, if you like))

        Shadow of Mordor
        Scarface: The World is Yours (Xbox / PS2)

        Robocop (ZX Spectrum)
        Ghostbusters (the 2009 one, not the terrible 1980s one)

      7. Retsam says:

        The Two Towers and the Return of the King games were both pretty great, too, in my opinion.

        1. Christopher says:

          Those had local co-op multiplayer, right? I think I played through one of them with my brother at some point. It was fun.

    2. Timelady says:

      Shamus actually teased it in the Spoiler Warning writeup for Spooky’s House of Jump Scares episode 1 (or did you see that and are talking about the Diecast specifically? It’s so hard to tell context over the internet.) by making one letter in the word ‘next’ a clickable link to the wikipedia page for KOTOR. (Did I just give away the easter egg? Sorry!)

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Was it you? Good catch :)

        1. Timelady says:

          ‘Twasn’t me in the comments, I’m too quiet for that. But thank you! :)

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I dont like games where game over means just restarting from the beginning.Games where your loss means you still gain something(new characters and options in roguelikes,for example)or where you can easily rewind to a very recent point(like in I wanna be the guy,or meatboy)are fine by me.

  8. Da Mage says:

    I’m with Josh on this one, once again he is the last person in the welcome.


  9. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Regarding text plays and images creating visual interest. I feel like to a lesser extent this is why lists as articles are so popular (apart from the ad click mining tricks such as making each page load a separate click). Breaking up text into a list of short blurbs helps the brain organize the text, and denotes a clear relationship between the passages thats immediately easier to pick up on than the typical long form essay where you actually have to read the text to pick up on the relationship between passages. You get that information at a glance instead.

    Even though a text play can’t be entirely structured as a top ten list, throwing in different blocks of organization, bulleted lists, callout boxes, lots of headings, etc, helps create that visual interest at a glance.

    Though pictures probably trump all of that.

    1. Benjamin Hilton says:

      For me the great Text Plays are ones that are either funny (the Spoony one), well thought out and critical (Shamus), well thought out and critical AND funny (Rutskarn), or very informative outside of the purview of the game (I loved Josh’s historical asides in Shogun).

      1. Trix2000 says:

        My favorite text LPs are the ones that take creative liberties with the characters. Anything from small italicized snark on the side to full-blown personality re-interpretations, it’s always funny to see someone take an established group of faces and run with it.

        And at the farthest end, you get things like this.

        1. Benjamin Hilton says:

          Agreed. I think that is part of the fun of Rutsarn’s LPs too. When Cahmel gets talking to his merc and his rat I lose it every time.

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I like text LPs of strategy or tactical games where the LPer infuses the characters with additional personality. There are lots of Dwarf Fortress LPs that do that and also Jarenth over at Ninja Blues does it a lot.

    2. Henson says:

      Richard Cobbett does the best text plays. Check out his Skyrim mod adventures.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Text lets plays are nice when someone has skill in writing.It also has the advantage of describing stuff any way you want.However,it has the disadvantage of not showing the exact things that happen in the game.And when something incredible happens,video is much better.

  11. Bropocalypse says:

    I’m surprised you guys didn’t talk about the canon ending(s) of Daggerfall.

    Also, it’d be sort of amusing(though a terrible idea) if the space travel in Mass Effect happened in real-time, and you thus had an excuse to sit down and read the damned codex.

    1. Syal says:

      “Codex entries; a few minutes each.
      Maybe just one.

      This is cool!
      Maybe I should read another.

      I know this.
      I should try again.

      Hey, what’s this?
      Maybe I should read another.”

  12. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Regarding presentation of lore in the codex being irrelevant if the story doesn’t first support itself (forgive me if I’m summarizing the point wrong.) How do you feel about Inquisition’s decision to basically throw part of the codex on the War Table? Would you say that counts as story happening in front of you in a game that is otherwise heavily cinematic?

    I say that because I ended up glossing over a lot of it. Part of the problem (as a UI/UX critic pointed out) was the decision to use small caps for all the game text. Apparently we’re used to normal text so much that our eyes can process most of it by skimming the tops of the letters and small caps throws that off, forcing you to have to focus more to read.

  13. James says:

    So thinking about how in KoTOR the dark side choices, which are unlabeled which i think was a good choice, it prevents meta-gaming and the game doesnt lock you out of light are dark side choices because on Taris you told the gangland boss to fuck off instead of telling him to shove off.

    additionally josh is right, the really obvious Dark Side options are intensely sociopathic, and sure the plot reveal that you are Darth Revan kinda makes them almost maybe make a tiny amount of sense.

    Oddly SWTOR somehow does much much better in having a playable middle ground, yes the game-play is cookie cutter, visually its not much improved upon on ME1 and KoTOR and can be easily described as Beige.

    But you can with a little effort play a grey sith who values specific things*. or a upstanding Jedi with some failings. something you cant really do with KoTOR or any ME game. I’d like to think its thanks to maturity and having their god writing staff moved over to it.

    *This is actually how my “main” character is, i played him as a originally quite Violent person who eventually came to mellow out somewhat and care only for personal power and the protection of his friends and finds no real need or benifit from mindless aggression and psychopathy common in most sith.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      True in KOTOR, wasn’t supposed to be as true in KOTOR II. There’s separate mechanics for “cunning” and “psychotic” choices (and not all “cunning” choices are necessarily evil, though by far most are). Another aspect that got gutted for time and there isn’t really enough to restore.

    2. Wide And Nerdy says:

      I think those choices fit once you know everything.

      We learn throughout the game that Revan has an impish sense of humor. He/She likes endlessly teasing Bastila/Carth during romance, and we learn that HK-47 continues to call humans meatbag because Revan found it amusing. Revan can also be quite snarky even when he/she’s not doing the dark side. If someone like that fell to the dark side, I could see them screwing around with people like that for their own amusement.

      The potential outcome for the Sandral Matale feud is hilarious, for one. I could see myself doing that if I was drunk on the dark side. I’d be pulling all kinds of pranks with the Jedi Mind Trick if I was evil. And it would be hard to resist even if I was good.

      I’ve always enjoyed that in games. Like New Vegas. Muggy
      A robot programmed to be obsessed with mugs and the washing thereof is also programmed to know that being obsessed with mugs is ridiculous. He’s also designed to be a tiny shrill parody of a competitor’s robot and he is programmed to know that his existence is a mockery. He’s very neurotic, but it tickles me just how pointlessly petty it is because of what it says about his creator.

  14. Hal says:

    Hm, I wonder if my KOTOR/KOTOR2 discs are still playable. Do they need to be patched to be playable on Windows 7/8/10? It would be frustrating if the only way to enjoy older games was to purchase them again through services like Steam to ensure backwards compatibility.

    Regarding established RPG settings, they can be interesting in their own right, and useful to GMs who lack the creative spark for making their own setting, but I prefer to just mine them for ideas when creating my own settings. I have two major reasons for this:

    1. These settings often come with a lot of baggage. Choosing to run a game in a setting doesn’t absolve you of decision making. You have to decide if all aspects of the setting are relevant, such as cities or factions or NPCs; do they exist, do your PCs know about them, etc. You may have to choose where in a timeline your game is taking place, and whether the players can affect any of the major events. For example, if you’re playing in Star Wars, do your players have the chance to blow up the Death Star or defeat Darth Vader? Or is that out of bounds. You may also decide that certain parts of the canon are not to your liking and want to simply disregard them; obnoxious NPCs or bizarre world-changing events might simply be ignored.

    2. Because of all that baggage above, there can be vast differences in knowledge about the setting. This is okay if the GM knows more about the setting than any of the players; this puts the GM in a good position to introduce the players to the setting on his terms. If a player knows far less than others at the table, however, they can end up feeling lost, and having to learn extensive setting information can be intimidating. Even worse is having a player with more knowledge of the setting than the GM; this can lead to conflict between the GM and the players if the GM goes against the established setting, or if the player tries to exploit a setting detail that the GM wasn’t aware of.

    All of that, and I just find it enjoyable to be creative in making a setting. Plus, then the players can get invested in the setting by adding elements of their own.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Kotor and TSL are still technically playable, but making them work on anything remotely recent requires a LOT of work in scripts, renaming files, and even downloading replacement files for some (or missing out on a bunch of videos). It’s far easier and more efficient, sadly, to buy them on GOG or Steam.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Hmm. How did I get my disc version of KotOR to work this summer on 7… Agh, I don’t remember. But I hadn’t played it in years! It was pretty good. Not quite as good as I remembered it, but good.

    2. Nidokoenig says:

      The issue of backwards compatibility has made me wonder if moving to Linux might be worth it, since Wine is basically designed to solve the problem of a program not thinking like your computer does. At the very least it’d force me to practice troubleshooting often enough to get good at it.

  15. Benjamin Hilton says:

    Don’t worry Josh. You’re not the only person who cares about Stargate. I followed that show for all ten seasons without getting bored.

    1. PeteTimesSix says:

      Dammit, now I want to play XCOM: Stargate Command… :c

      1. mhoff12358 says:

        I had no idea how much I wanted this until just now.

    2. Nimas says:

      Wait, didn’t it only have 8 seasons? I may have heard of a farscape/stargate crossover thingy, but I’m pretty sure Stargate ended with season 8

      1. Alan says:

        Nope. Stargate went on for 10 seasons. After season 8, Richard Dean Anderson left and Ben Browder and Claudia Black joined the cast which might be where you got the Farscape crossover idea from.

        Or it might be from this.

      2. Soylent Dave says:

        I’m pretty sure it only had 5 seasons, and ended with the Goa’uld still being at least vaguely respectable bad guys and Daniel Jackson dying in agony and not coming back from the dead. Again.

  16. Joe Leigh says:

    Since Campster is apparently so fond of it, I triple dog dare you guys to do Sneak King as a Spoiler Warning filler episode at some point.

  17. Decius says:

    The UFO series (Aftershock, Afterlight, Aftermath) manages to sequalize X-COM’s plot, by stealing it and then just setting canonical endings, starting with losing endings.

    They are somewhat disappointing in that they all focus on territorial warfare and have few unique missions and a single defeat is horribly reinforcing.

    1. Squirly says:

      I was going to mention the UFO series from Altair because of this, glad I’m not the only one.

      For a TL;DR, the idea is basically that at the end of the first UFO (Aftermath) you get a choice, either to go along with the aliens’ plan for the earth and start a colony on Mars with their help, or to continue fighting and end the threat. Both sequels (Aftershock and Afterlight) take the former (accede to the alien’s demands) as canon and deal with the effects of that. Aftershock has you taking on the human resistance on an Earth that’s mostly under alien control, Afterlight has you taking on the colonists on Mars who run into a new threat.

      Also, they aren’t as good as the XCOM games, but they get bonus points for not trying to clone them, and just taking them as a broad strokes inspiration. They did their own thing, and some of it worked, while some of it didn’t. I quite enjoyed Aftershock because it was deeper and more interesting than Aftermath, while Afterlight kinda lost me.

      1. ehlijen says:

        I especially liked aftershock for what is probably one of the most out there explanation for Everything That Is Going On I’ve seen in a video game that still rang true enough to work for me.

  18. Sean M. Paus says:

    Not sure where the problem resides, but my podcast aggregator (Downcast) indicates there is no media file associated with this episode. :(

    1. Narida says:

      Same problem here, this is showing up as a “Text Update”, instead of the usual podcast… did it get tagged wrong or something?

      1. Sean M. Paus says:

        Something changed because now Downcast sees that there is a media file. However, the size reported is only 613 bytes, and it’s encountering errors when trying to download it. :(

  19. Timelady says:

    Rutskarn, has your mom ever played the Nancy Drew games, just out of curiosity? They’re really well-made, scratch that old-school adventure itch perfectly, and are easily available at retail stores. :)

  20. Hey, Shamus, it’s spelled Faerun. Dunno if the typo was in the original letter or not (and I may know way too much about it). I like Eberron better though, it’s a bit more adaptable to what my group likes (Indiana Jones campaign with cut-throat academics fighting to be the first by any means necessary while balancing their loyalties to their research group, sponsors, university, and (for some) their Dragonmarked house).
    Faerun also feels like there’s too much canon. Great to read (I love reading rpg setting books), not so much for playing in. Feels like there’s so much going on already and so much has happened that there isn’t enough space for PCs to shine. I mean, how do you compete with the guy who’s dating the goddess of magic? Plus my players tend to like a more steampunky feel rather than straight fantasy.

    (Note, all views on settings are based on 3.5 D&D. I went from that to Pathfinder and have no earthly idea what’s happened in either D&D setting since.

  21. squiddlefits says:

    To: Josh “Cuftbert” Viel:

    Things are going according to plan. We’ve managed to turn Rutskarn against Mumbles, and you’ve been stupid enough to stick your neck out for that overbearing pun-monster. Why not join us? While you’ve been stockpiling ammo, alcohol and hi tech gadgets, we’ve collected every last piece of nuts, bananas and coconuts onboard. Just say the word, and you’ll get plenty to eat, an attractive hirsute companion, and a tire swing of your own. In the end, isn’t that what really matters?

  22. topazwolf says:

    Well, now I know why Josh has been on again off again playing Kotor. I figured it was just for pleasure.

  23. Andy_Panthro says:

    For the best Let’s Plays, you have to go to http://lparchive.org/

    The best of which is surely Nakar’s playthrough of the Ultima games (best read if you’ve played them, but probably still amusing for anyone else): http://lparchive.org/author/nakar

    1. Andy_Panthro says:

      Also I’ve written a few, although I’m not sure I’d call them Let’s Plays, that isn’t always the intention.

      I began with Quest for Glory (1989): http://playedbypanthro.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/quest-for-glory.html

      I’ve also covered X-COM (1994) and a few others as brief one-off posts. I also played through Space Quest 1 VGA (1990) as part of The Adventure Gamer, which was originally the project of a guy to play every adventure game in order, and now there’s a few different people continuing this.

    2. Merlin says:

      My vote is still for the Animal Crossing LP. That’s some goooood stuff.

  24. tzeneth says:

    Hey Shamus, nobody figured out your web of clues? *Looks at first comment of link to clues*

    Huh, the first comment on that video was, “Oh s[***]… You got Kotor to work? Reginald Cuftbert with a god damn lightsaber, can't wait.” (Profanity bleeped out by me)

    1. Shamus says:

      Yes, that was indeed the joke. The “web of clues” was almost insultingly easy, everyone guessed it, and we then pretended to have pulled off some large-scale deception.

      And now I have explained the joke.

      1. Steve C says:

        Coincidentally I learned a real ‘web of clues’ to a cool thing in a game today. Apparently the clues were enough to get people speculating what should happen for a while before. Just not how to do it.

        The convoluted logic was pretty cool in and of itself.

      2. Bubble181 says:

        I’m not sure I entirely understand. Do you mean you made it insultingly easy on purpose – thus insulting us, or did you mean to imply that you assumed it was insultingly easy, thus implicitly insulting anyone who didn’t figure it out, or did it turn out to be insultingly easy, thus meaning you underestimated all of our intelligences, again insulting the lot of us?
        Or is there a hidden, second layer you’re deliberately obfuscating by implying the “obvious” answer was the correct one, and will you in fact be Warnedly Spoilering a different game altogether?

        1. Shamus says:

          I made it easy, but then made a big deal about it as if it was difficult, then ignored when lots of people figured it out, then Rutskarn and I laughed because we’d “outwitted” everyone.

          I dunno. Seemed fun at the time.

          1. Bubble181 says:

            …I was jokingly faking understanding to make fun of in a not too negative way of tzeneth not “getting it” :(

            “that awkward moment when your sarcasm’s so good – or bad – people think you’re actually stupid -and you can’t tell which” – it needs a word in English, it’s got one in Dutch and German :p

            1. Kai von Eggenburg says:

              What’s the word in German? I can’t think of one that says what you are saying there.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Its just a figure of speech when something is very easy.No actual insult was intended.

      3. guy says:

        Honestly, when I caught the hyperlink I thought you were trolling us and it would actually be something else.

    2. Jokerman says:

      I might of given it away too soon, i should’ve left it to see how many missed it. I have a bad case of blabbermouthitis.

  25. wswordsmen says:

    Xcom style Stargate game, I approve.

  26. Tam O'Connor says:

    Well, this Diecast was very pertinent to me. I just finished remastering Holonet History Presents: Knights of the Old Republic, which was a screenshot LP. Definitely looking forward to the Spoiler Warning of KotOR, and listening to your analysis. Probably going to be smacking my head a lot this season, wondering ‘why didn’t I think of that?’

    Glad y’all got the technical issues ironed out (or some approximation thereof) – I remember you mentioned them as a reason why you couldn’t do KotOR, and I remember nodding along, because I remember all the trouble I had trying to record the cutscenes as videos. It was actually one of the reasons I decided to look at the game from an in-universe historical perspective, because those cutscenes are pretty integral to the classic Star Wars feel of the game.

    Can’t wait to see what wonderful bugs Josh discovers. I had a mod or two, but those aside, I had fun things like minibosses not being hostile. That was a part of text LPs y’all didn’t mention: that the writer can choose to frame the game in a very different way than the VLPer, unless you have a very dedicated video editor. I just wound up cutting that miniboss from the story entirely. The text LPer can also do things like write incidental dialogue to fill out the player-created protagonist, or even veer off into the wondrous land of fan-fiction. It isn’t better or worse, but it does offer more options.
    (EDIT: Whoops, forgot to close that link.)

  27. Paul Spooner says:

    Couldn’t resist making a “Josh is introduced” remix of the opening musical number.

  28. Christopher says:

    It’s gonna be interesting to see KOTOR, finally. The earliest Bioware game I have played was Jade Empire. Making an educated guess here: It’s gonna have a pretty weak story, some cool characters and a bearable but boring combat system. An evil monster will be underneath some village, making everyone weird. People’s souls are gonna fuel some kind of stone constructs. Party members won’t be your friends and won’t talk to one another.

    Hopefully it’ll be a bit more surprising than that, though.

    1. Syal says:

      More than zero of those are correct. But I think you’ll be a little bit surprised, anyway.

  29. lethal_guitar says:

    For some reason this post doesn’t work in my podcast player :( i.e. I cannot download it. The one before (Rutskarn’s tales) shows up properly.. and all the (recent) previous Diecast episodes as well.

    Did something change about the RSS feeds?

    1. Shamus says:

      Ah! Finally figured it out. In the URL I put “diecast117” instead of “diecast117.mp3”. Looked at it three times and still didn’t notice my error. Should be fixed now.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        Argh, I think I’m stuck with the RSS containing the bad link but can’t convince AntennaPod to delete it and download the corrected version… my life is ruined because now I have to download the plain .ogg file and queue it in an audio player by hand!

        1. Xapi says:

          In my podcast manager (Podcast Addict), you can deploy the options for the given episode and hit a button that goes “update RSS content”. This will sort of “refresh” the episode’s entry on your manager, so it will download the new link and work as intended.

          1. Zak McKracken says:

            Yeah, seems like Antennapod can’t do that. Short of removing the entire podcast and re-downloading all the RSS content, messages I can’t update something I’ve already downloaded.

            … I think I’ll survive using a regular audio player though :)
            I think the only server-side way of solving this would be to publish the corrected link as a new episode, which will then confuse everyone who was able to update the existing one, so I’ll just go with this.

      2. lethal_guitar says:

        Works now, thanks! :)

      3. BlackFox says:

        Link is still ‘diecast177’ for the ‘Direct link to this episode’ link, though it’s fixed for the other two.

        1. Cuthalion says:

          I see this as well, plus it’s still broken for my feed reader / media player. If he’s already changed it in the feed, then it’s probably my player’s fault for not re-checking it after it got the 404.

  30. silver Harloe says:

    I feel like the right way to think about ‘codex entries’ (whatever the generic form is across many games) is “the game is the book, the codex is the footnotes.” Maybe an appendix if it’s a long entry, but probably that means you missed opportunities to put the story into the game.

    1. Chauzuvoy says:

      I feel like Assassin’s Creed 4 actually did a pretty good job of this. The story as presented in the game gives you more than enough to understand what’s going on, and the codex entries give you the historical or backstory notes if you want to learn more. The basics of Edward Kenway and his backstory are told to you through the story, but you can read more details about his decision to become a pirate and the specific stories of his wife back in wales if you’re so inclined. It almost feels like they had the broad strokes of the story they wanted to tell before they even considered writing any kind of in-depth lore.

      You could call the other approach the “DM’s Binder” approach, where the writers invested a lot of effort in creating this incredible backstory without any real thought into how it affects the actual game they were running, so major historical figures like the Rachni Queen pop up and unless you were reading the DM’s notes you’d have no idea why everyone was making such a big deal out of what feels like a generic “Last of my Evil, Monstrous Kind” moral dilemma.

  31. Dragmire says:

    The only text play I’ve read was the demon path of Soul Nomad. I couldn’t play it because the story… um, does very very bad things to the characters I had grown attached to. I wanted a medium that allowed me to somewhat experience the content without feeling like a terrible, awful and loathsome person. Thankfully, the text play allowed for that.

    … I still feel bad just thinking of that optional story path though…


  32. Brainbosh says:

    As far as codex entries go, Mass effect 2 had, or rather lacked, one that I really needed. When you first get Thane in your party, you can have a conversation with him. He demonstrates his eidetic memory, I was really confused, and there were no conversation options to ask what the hell that was. So I assume that there would be a codex entry for his species that explained what happened, but I could not find one.

    They explained what that was in conversations a session or two later, but that was well after I asked the question. I was really disappointed that one of the few times I specifically looked at the codex for an explanation that there was nothing there.

    So good for them that they explained it in actual conversation, but they let it wait too long for me.

  33. Steve C says:

    A neutral KOTOR character can work and work well. That’s what I used when I played it. I found the combats extremely easy to the point of boredom due to a neutral build. From what I heard most people found the combats difficult. The difference might be that it was D&D 3.0 under the hood and I knew how to abuse D&D 3.0.

    Namely if something is slowed and knocked down under d20 rules then standing up will use their entire round worth of actions. In a computer game they will always stand up. It’s possible in KOTOR to repeatedly knock down enemies while slowing them until they fail a stun saving throw. Once stunned you carve them up since they lose their bonuses to dodge and have all the other bonuses to hit stunned targets.

    In case you are wondering it is 1)debuff enemies (Affiliction-Dark) 2)buff party stats (Light) 3)knock down (Neutral) 4)stun locking (Neutral) 5)attacking guys with blasters with melee (you get a +10 to hit bonus) and 6)always power attacking. Even with the power attack it is still very likely to have a 95% chance to hit due to situational bonuses. Enemies with armor used blasters (so +10) and ones without (Sith) would lose their bonuses to dodge which was most of their Armor Class. It was basically impossible to miss in all situations unless you rolled a 1.

    If you want the exact build to power through the game for Spoiler Warning I could probably come up with it from memory and a wiki. It made all combats trivial with the exception of exactly 2.

  34. topazwolf says:

    I’m the nerd that actually read each and every codex as it became available in Mass Effect. However, though I was fully aware of what the Rachni were when they appeared I wasn’t actually terrible interested in the actual fate of the queen. I mean, the codex made them sound like Starship Trooper bugs, but the queen actual contradicted what was known by way of the codex. What with her calm discourse and cryptic nature. The lack of emotional impact of the moment made me have a “Well that’s kinda neat” reaction rather than a “Holy shit we’re all going to die” reaction.

    If Wrex had made mention of them and how even the Krogan’s were weary of them, then maybe I would have felt more conflicted. The queen really needed to be shown off in a better light so that her danger and the potential danger she represents was more evident. As it was, the obvious answer was to free her.

  35. Clodpool says:

    I’m trying to download this episode on an iPad and it’s just having none of it. Usually it’s fine.

  36. Zak McKracken says:

    Hidden object games, man! So that’s what they look like.
    Soo, pretty much like an early to mid-90’s Sierra Adventure minus the puzzles, the jokes or interesting story? That seems like a terrible regression on an old genre, focussing on its weakest points: The fact that you never knew what part of the screen could be interacted with or not.
    Of course, adventure games solved that problem at some point, either by showing mouse-over effects or by even highlighting what could be interacted with.

    … so … yeah, I don’t get the appeal. Like, at all.

    Ok, one advantage over some of those Sierra games: at least the objects don’t seem to be just one pixel in size.
    Also apologies to everyone who enjoyed Sierra adventures. So did I, but the 1-pixel objects were just bonkers.

    1. Nidokoenig says:

      Well, the thing with hidden object games is that you know the shape you’re after, so highlighting the objects or showing a tooltip is casualising the core skill test of the genre, like having auto-aim in a shooter. Highlights and tooltips are for games where people just want to look at the table and pick up the ammo or the ingredients and get back to shooting or combining dynamite with chickens to solve puzzles, rather than directly enjoying the foraging aspect. I guess old games had a set of skill checks that didn’t mesh too well and the genres diverged to serve the different interests by simplifying the bits the different audiences tolerated to get to the fun.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        Yeah, so I was a tad sarcastic there. Of course the main thing about these games is, as you said, finding things in pictures. The interesting aspect for me is that back in the day everyone I knew agreed that this was the most off-putting aspect of adventure games. Nobody liked that. Now it has apparently sparked its own genre.

        The world is just not fair. It’s not fair!

        Slightly less grumpy: of course it depends on circumstances, what you look for in a game, what your other preferences are… I’m sure that people who played adventure games in 1990 are not representative of the target demographic for hidden-object games. And even I had no problem at the time sitting down with a knotted fishing line for two hours, trying to unravel it. Ah, those days…

        …now I wonder how many of those hidden-object people could be tricked into playing graphic adventures by gradually bringing aspects of the latter into the former. I suppose the tone would have to be slightly different but whatever.

        1. Timelady says:

          “…now I wonder how many of those hidden-object people could be tricked into playing graphic adventures by gradually bringing aspects of the latter into the former.”

          Believe it or not, this is exactly what they’re doing. As someone who’s been playing (among other things) casual games for a while now, I can tell you that the one they did in the Spoiler Warning anniversary show is seriously old school hidden object game as far as these things go.

          What you see most of right now is, well, basically Inventory Puzzle games. With short hidden object scenes. The reward of which is to get you inventory items. Hell, I even played one that had just come out a year or so ago with–wait for it–FMV cutscenes. I can’t complain, man. Especially since what seems to be the most popular genre for these is gothic horror with really pretty backgrounds and decent (not great, but decent and usually pretty over the top) story behind it.

        2. Timelady says:

          But yeah–I get your point and it’s something I’ve always found amusing for sure. :) Now who wants to see Guess the Verb as a party game?

  37. Alex says:

    I haven’t listened to this yet, but I just want to say again that I’d be fine with XCOM 2 going with the “humanity lost” option if it wasn’t [i]this[/i] humanity lost option. If XCOM 1 was the consequence of the aliens going shock and awe on humanity while XCOM 2 was the consequence of the aliens feigning friendship long enough to mind control our leaders and take over covertly, with XCOM never being activated until it was apparent what was happening, I would be much happier with the game. So instead of “you lost the first invasion” you’d have “you were never called in to fight the first invasion, because the aliens tried something sneakier instead.”

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Extra terrestrials already had infiltrators in 1.And when you lose a country,its usually because the leaders there signed a pact with them.But nothing in the first game shows how they treat the countries that have surrendered,so its not really that far out that what we see in xcom 2 would be that.

  38. Zak McKracken says:

    My thoughts on canon: Screw canon! If your game can in any sense be called “interactive fiction”, then the player has the ability to change the story. If you insist on having canon, you retroactively remove that.
    If you want a sequel, either use only what was unavoidable in the last,game or reset the scenario. same theme, dame gameplay, different names, different location, whatever.

  39. Sova says:

    Super interesting spiel (dare I say monologue?) from Rutskarn at the end there on lore/”codex pages” with a bit of help from Shamus (games should make sense in the moment). As someone who tends to get quite lost in game’s setting I have to say I am the sucker who would go look up extra content online. More ‘lore development’ in game would always be appreciated if it is not game momentum-breaking and not too stodgy.

    Also Rutskarn it seems you have mellowed a bit in your view on the more ‘traditional’ D&D settings. If I remember correctly in earlier Diecast episodes you basically said you were over standard D&D. It sounded like you are now more ambivalent to them rather than just being outright over them. Am I reading into this too much/misinterpreting or has there been a shift in your view recently?

  40. Zak McKracken says:

    The “lore sold separately” thing:

    Agreed that there needs to be sufficient information in the game to make sense of things.
    I do wonder if some game developers look at the depth to which the average MMO player reads info on quests and stuff (i.e. tell me who to kill, that’s all), and conclude that putting the info required to what’s going on into the players’ way would annoy so many that they try to make it completely optional.

    How much time would it have cost to explain the Rachni situation to a player, and how many of them wouldn’t care about it? The ideal solution to this should be mandatory but skippable dialogue — then again I suppose that in real development things go wrong, need to be changed later, and then you’ve got your mo-capped voiced content you can’t use anymore, so let’s just put it somewhere to read and maybe do more with it if we find the time. Which of course never happens.
    That’s also my favourite hypothesis of what happened to Destiny. They came up with a useful story but it was too late to actually put it in the game. Or they tried some way to put it in which had to be abandoned for technical reasons. The argument would have been that someone who just wants to know whom to shoot won’t care about the story and those who do can still look it up. Which is weak because most of the people who do care about the story don’t care enough to look it up online… but I guess that’s how it went.

  41. RCN says:

    I know I’m a month late, but…

    As someone who (failed) to do a picture text-based let’s play of Supreme Commander and is currently (failing a little less) at doing the same on Heroes of Might & Magic II, I can corroborate that fiddling with pics to choose what to place in the LP is the worst part of the process. I bought an SSD for my PC for the main reason of helping me out with the humongous 1920×1200 Supreme Commander screens that could take up to five seconds to load on a normal Hard Disk.

    5 seconds don’t seem like much, until you realized I had around 1000 screens for each update and each mission would take 2-3 updates. Right now I don’t have an HD large enough to just fire-and-forget FRAPs, but it really sounds like a great deal.

    As for Stargate and X-Com, I always felt that Stargate was the closest you could have to an actual X-Com series. It is pretty close. They have a large, secret underground facility with all the different needs for planetary expeditions, they research and develop on alien technology to close the gap, they send teams on mission in hostile environments, and at some point the aliens even started infiltrating human society to conquer it from within. All that is left to turn X-Com into Stargate is a diplomacy system and non-hostile aliens.

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