Diecast #208: Mailbag

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 30, 2018

Filed under: Diecast 52 comments

It’s an all-mailbag episode. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. Also to reiterate what I said on the show: This was recorded on Wed April 25, prior to me taking a trip.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
01:27 Factorio vs. Minecraft

You were fishing for subjects in the last podcast. I’d be curious to hear some chatter comparing the progression and endgame of modded (industrial) Minecraft, Factorio and any similar games you’ve played.

It’s my personal impression that this is much more clearly thought through and balanced in Factorio, I think due to it being a more focused team, maybe you disagree.

This post might be relevant:



16:01 Software Licenses

Open source software licenses seem to be written for pure software, and the Creative Commons licenses are for pure non-software (music remixes, photos, etc). Since games are at the intersection of these two areas, what are your thoughts on how open-source games should deal with this?


– No name given

I realize we didn’t actually answer this question, but I think we sort of proved that we’re unqualified to answer the question.

25:28 Max Payne

As promised on the show, I read and answered this question…

I’m interested to know if the hosts have played the Max Payne games, and if so, what they think of the series? The first two were well-received by critics and the public alike, although I believe the second sold well below what Remedy had hoped. This probably contributed to the decade-long gap between the release of the second game and the third, as well as the change of developer to Rockstar Studios.

Max Payne 3 is interesting in comparison to the preceding games, and for all the decisions Rockstar made about what to imitate and where to diverge, not only in terms of gameplay mechanics but also narrative, setting and tone. It’s also interesting to consider what effect the 10 year advance in industrial trends might have had for the project, from both a design and a commercial perspective. It was a divisive game (to put it mildly) and I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts about it, should you have any.


…and then once the show was over I went back to Diecast #4 to see what I said about the game in 2013, and if it matches my thinking today. (I didn’t remember that podcast at all.)

So here are my thoughts on what I said in 2013:

In 2013 I predicted that I’d play through the game again someday. (Wrong. I haven’t touched it.) But I also predicted that I’d forget about what a dull slog the endgame was. (Correct. I’d forgotten that.) I said that I’d have preferred dark rainy New York, but I was okay with the change of venue. (This matches what I said here in 2018.)

Link (YouTube)

34:23 Newest Game

Short and simple:

What’s the game with the most recent release date that you’ve played?
(For Early Access, whatever’s the most recently available would probably count…)


39:09 Indies

Good evening,

To celebrate the first time I’ve listened to more than half of the podcast (podcast are totally not my thing, so it’s a compliment to the diecast that I’ve listened to it), I’ve got a question to Shamus:

Do you play indies or other lesser-known games? And if yes, how do you hear about them and how do you chose which one will you play? And why don’t you write a little post about some of them?

Have a nice week.


Here is the first of my Steam Backlog series.


From The Archives:

52 thoughts on “Diecast #208: Mailbag

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Now that you’ve mentioned a circuit board, I don’t remember you mentioning Shenzhen IO. Have you ever tried it? If not, you really should. It’s a puzzle game about bulding circuit boards:


    Sorry, I can’t really link stuff organically while on mobile.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I’m a huge fan of everything Zach Barth. Space Chem was a mental revolution for me, and he basically pioneered the technology for MineCraft. So yes, I’ve played Shenzen IO. I don’t think Shamus has gotten around to it yet.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Its a shame really.I think that one would be perfect for him.

        Me?Im more of a space chem guy.Though Im fond of the infinite board the opus magnum.Infinifactory was cool too.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Couldn’t the solution to the factorio carriet drones be to make them dumber? So instead of them being able to go anywhere and collect anything, have them follow only the paths you lay out for them. Basically make them use rails like trains, but with the benefit that you can lay down their “tracks” independently of the terrain or structures or other “rails” for robots. To me that seems like a natural progression.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah, make it more like an airport with scheduled flights.
      The absurdly OP player archon is still the sticking point for me. If it’s a sim, the archon shouldn’t be able to carry even one telephone pole around, let alone an entire electrical power plant, a train yard complete with locomotives, and enough turrets to fortify a city. On the other hand, if it’s a creative building game then you shouldn’t be locked to the archon, and should have access to blueprints, time-warp, and other high-level abstracted tools right from square one.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        You get blueprints at the beginning now. Recent-ish update to the game.

      2. Xeorm says:

        There is a game mode you can play without the player in it. Even has cheats if you’re looking to start without going through the tech tree like normal.

    2. LCF says:

      I can’t remember if I talked about that earlier (though it was briefly touched upon around 13 minutes in the cast), but integrating the idea of weight would help steer Factorio toward that direction.
      A 5-kg-drone could carry a bunch of screws or some very advanced and pricey electronics an deliver it everywhere fast, and be easily adaptable, but would not carry a whole factory. A two-metre-wide conveyor belt would carry several tons of coal or iron ore per hours, albeit slowly. Trains would get loads of products relatively fast and have a moderately flexible organisation.
      Now the question of the Player thingy would be questionned, but we could probably video-game-logic it away.

      Now, I see it’s a problem for several people, but as a single-player belt-layer I don’t see what the fuss is all about. I sometimes use bots when the endstate gets too cluttered or for hi-tech components, and I never really touched the train system, ’cause I’m lazy in the brain. Those who like to play Only Bots or Only Trains can have it, and it makes for nice videos and cool achievements.

    3. Echo Tango says:

      Logistics robots are a conentious topic on the game’s forums. The three warring sides seem to be: players who don’t like having their belts made “obsolete”, and generally don’t like bots enough to realize how difficult optimizing them is; and the players who think they’re OK balance-wise as a player-empowerment tool. IMO, they could probably have the chargers balanced a bit (which is what seems to be the bottleneck for large amounts of them), and everyone would be fine. But it’s also a single-player game with mods, so… :)

  3. Joe says:

    The latest game I’ve played is Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, an early access ARPG. I got as far as the first boss fight. Turns out that bosses are auto-levelling, and when you die you get sent back to the last miniboss, losing about ten minutes of progress. So I couldn’t advance, got frustrated, and quit. But there’s a new patch, so I may try it again some time.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I’m absolutely terrible for playing recent games. Unless it’s something like a Persona game I’m easily years behind the latest. The most recent game I played, though, was Blue Reflection, which I played in April and came out in March, because it was advertised as being a Persona-like game. My conclusion was that it had promise and that I’d like to see the series continue, but that this game didn’t make it to the level of Persona 3.

      And then I started replaying Persona 3, so I went from quite recent to pretty old …

      1. Syal says:

        Newest games for me are Into the Breach which looks like it’s two months old, and Slay the Spire which is Early Access and thus has a release date that includes both “long ago” and “long from now”.

  4. Gordon says:

    “There is no philosophical way to draw the line without causing moral problems” that seems like a very black/white logic/reason engineer way of looking at the world. Why is drawing a perfectly morally consistent philosophical line more important than all the other concerns around intellectual property?

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      In short, internal consistency is the baseline requirement to take anything seriously. If it doesn’t agree with itself, it can’t possibly be true.
      Here’s my article on IP which goes into a lot more detail.

      1. Gordon says:

        I haven’t read the article yet, it’s a moderate amount to work through, so please forgive me if this is covered, but…

        Shouldn’t the measure of public policy be “useful”? not “true”? If your argument is that intellectual property isn’t a real fundamental property of the world I agree entirely. It’s a synthetic tool, like most stuff related laws, society, governance and culture. A set of mostly arbitrary rules we made up to try and achieve desirable outcomes.

        Also there’s a bunch of fairly serious seeming biblical stuff on the page you linked, do you have an article somewhere that squares that with “internal consistency is the baseline requirement to take anything seriously. If it doesn’t agree with itself, it can’t possibly be true”?

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          I did write an article on what the Bible says about IP, if that’s what you were looking for.
          If you’re obliquely implying that there are logical inconsistencies in the Bible, not a chance we’re discussing that on this site! But I’ve made an article stub where we can have the discussion here if you’re interested. Same goes for the discussion on “useful” vs “true” as regards political expediency.

        2. Shamus says:

          There’s a comment section on Paul’s site. I would encourage anyone interested in this debate to take the conversation over there. Even if the rules allowed it, there’s no way you could trust me to be a fair moderator on this one.

          1. djw says:

            I honestly don’t think I’d trust anybody to moderate that topic fairly.

            1. Methermeneus says:

              Obviously, the exact copyright solution used by Handmade Hero wouldn’t work for everyone, but the general idea of releasing the source unconditionally five years after the game’s release isn’t a bad starting point for open source games.

              Concerning how copyright affects mod/dev interactions, this isn’t anything new. Authors who approve of fanfics still won’t read them for similar reasons. Marion Zimmer Bradley got burned by a fanfic author making accusations once, and that put a lot of other authors off it as well. Mercedes Lackey eventually approved of fanfics, but she still won’t read them.

              1. Methermeneus says:

                Sorry, I meant this to be a top-level comment. Not sure what happened.

  5. Echo Tango says:

    – No name given

    Damnit, Gmail strikes again! I sign emails with a minus/dash in front (normal ASCII dash), and that’s the symbol Gmail uses to cut out lines from forwarded email. :P

  6. Paul Spooner says:

    Something else that I forgot to add in the show. I feel like both Minecraft and Factorio suffer from a problem I’ve started calling “the worst kind of Windows Paint” problem. Cursor unresponsiveness, and single pixel brush size.
    Both games use the player character as a cursor, and both expect you to walk all over in order to do things. This is at least somewhat justified in Minecraft, as there’s no straightforward way to do a 3d mapping of a 2d mouse cursor, but you should at least be able to teleport on a minimap or something.
    And both games give you a single pixel brush. You’ve even got a pallet at the bottom of the screen, to show what kind of thing you’re painting. But, why can’t I paint more than one pixel at a time? Or use a pattern brush to copy stuff from elsewhere? Or do a flood fill?
    These are all (except the clone brush?) features that were present in 1985. The year after I was born. In a pack-in raster editing tool. What a travesty.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      These tools exist in the game. Blueprints. Lets you copy paste, and do big things at once. For things like laying some paths or landfill, you can use +- to make a bigger brush to lay down your stuff.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Right, but blueprints require roboports, do they not? Didn’t know about the brush size. Thanks!
        Minecraft, too, has the “clone” and “fill” server commands, but they aren’t well integrated into the game flow.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          As noted above, you get blueprints for free in a new game now.

          1. etheric42 says:

            Yeah, you get blueprints for free, but they just lay down ghosts of buildings, which your robots would place for you if you had them. Without robots the blueprints give you guidelines, but you have to manually place each thing. I wish you could just walk close and hit a button and have the appropriate objects vacuumed from your inventory.

            1. MadTinkerer says:

              Fortnite has ruined construction games forever.

            2. Echo Tango says:

              Well, for most early-game stuff, you can just hold down the mouse button while you run, to lay down a row of buildings from your inventory. Is that not enough of a “paintbrush” for the early game?

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Indeed.Which is why sim cities* are the best of this genre even decades later.Factorio would be so much better if you started with a single roboport,and you were the omnipotent person placing blueprints for it to build around the world.

      *The old ones.Not the attrocious one.

      1. etheric42 says:

        Whereas I liked the feeling of “being there”, and I haven’t clicked with the other many factory games that cast you as an incorporeal clicker. Once I got robots I liked the game less because of how powerful they were compared to conveyor belts.

        Part of the problem of not being able to make a game for everybody.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          I think they could solve it, if there was a single mod for the game, which just enabled god-mode, removed all the player-items from the game and research, and started you with some very slow robots, which cost a lot to build (or some such, for balance). Ideally official, but unofficial would be cool too.

    3. default_ex says:

      On the Minecraft side of things, modded does actually provide better brushes. Tinker’s tools give you access to +Width and +Height modifiers you can place on your tools to expand the rectangle they will dig. Ore Excavation allows you to excavate all of the blocks like the one your targetting, a specific width x height x depth or a pattern you can color in a GUI. Build wands allow all manner of things from block swapping to placing entire rows/columns to placing specific patterns. You can even go sub-block resolution with Chisel and Bits if it’s installed in your pack which allows up to 1/64th of the block to be chiseled away, can place bits chiseled off entirely different blocks into the crevasses of the one your working on and of course clone those out so you can build a palette to build with. Even Chisel and Bits supports patterns of various forms, it gets very complex in what it provides. Any mod content compatible with multiblock allows for just freely placing any blocks into the same area that have adequate air space to accommodate each other.

  7. baud says:

    The most recent game I’ve played was Into the Breach, in order to follow the conversation on another forum. It was good, but I didn’t play long, I just did three run, with two successful ones. It’s a good game, but it’s nearly 100% system-lead: the only reason to play more than one time would be to check the gameplay with new mechs and pilots and different island order. I guess I know now that I need a story to play more than 3h.

    Thank you for answering my question too; that’s cool you get a email channel with new indies and I would enjoy having a few more articles in the Steam Backlog série, which I had forgotten about, even if I read them at the time. I checked the archive before sending my question, but I did not go as far back as needed. One of them made me want to play the Room, I’ll have to check that game.

    I had forgotten that my (full) first name tends to hard to pronounce in English, I should just have signed Baud as I do here.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I guess the idea is that most players would play many times before they finished successfully. Me, I know I failed a lot before my first win. They definitely had a lot less writing than in FTL, and no quests or anything. Hopefully moddable! :)

      1. Syal says:

        I think what it really needed was more islands; four islands, five maps per island, four turns (at most) per map means you have eighty turns before the finale, and half that if you go there as soon as you can.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Into the breach starts you off rather easily though.Its not that difficult to win with your first team.You just have to not rush it.

        1. baud says:

          I think the difficulty of the final island scales depending on the number of islands you’ve done before, at least the number of alpha-class enemies is reduced. So you can finish the game after two island, it’s what I did. As for not rushing it, it’s also worthwhile to do it in the combat turns too, since there’s usually in all turns a way to not lose too much, however dire the situation is.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            What I mean by not rushing it is:You have infinite time to think everything through and plan way ahead.Its a puzzle game essentially since everything is shown to you.So by being ponderous you can solve it most of the time.

            Plus,the turn timer works in your favor,since you can usually just work on avoiding damage for that turn until the time runs out and you win.

            1. baud says:

              Ah. I thought by not rushing it you meant the number of islands finished before tackling the final island. So that’s why I talked about it.

              For not rushing it during the battles to achieve a good result, I totally agree.

  8. Steve C says:

    Shamus, here is an idea about your Indie game emails– You could turn the emails into a feed of some kind for other people to subscribe to.

    I like Indie games and mid tier publishers. That’s all I play, never AAA games. The problem is that I don’t feel I have any means to learn about them. I learn about games I want to play very haphazardly. I would appreciate browsing that kind of advertising especially when I’m between games (like right now) and looking for something new to play.

    1. Droid says:

      Immediately seconded!

      Unfortunately, that’s time that Shamus would have to invest himself (he can hardly give someone else permission to browse his e-mails, right?) and would probably not be recyclable into blog posts. But one can always hope!

  9. MadTinkerer says:

    Another danger of talking about a game is accidentally spoiling the movie it’s based on.

    PROTIP: If you haven’t seen Infinity War yet, avoid the trailers for the Lego game!

    1. baud says:

      Thanks you for the warning. One of my colleague said it was great and had a twist, so I’m trying to avoid spoilers.

  10. John says:

    I think that the most recent game I’ve played–I’m still playing it actually, as I bought it just a couple of weeks ago–is Disagaea 2 PC, from early 2017. Except that it’s a port of a PlayStation 2 game, so maybe that shouldn’t count. Let’s see, what else have I got? There’s Hard West, Satellite Reign, Crypt of the Necrodancer, Galak-Z, and Shadowrun Hong Kong, all from 2015. Huh. 2015 was apparently a very good year for games. (Well, maybe not Galak-Z.) Of course, with the exception of Crypt of the Necrodancer, I bought all those games well after release. In fact, I only just got around to buying Hard West a few months ago. I’m very, very cheap, and I almost always wait for deep sales and sub-$10 prices.

  11. Dragmire says:

    I can kinda see Paul’s view on ip from an entertainment point of view but I don’t see that working for things like financial and security software.

    … In other news, if I become part robot, do I still click the box before posting? Is it a more or less 50% robot thing?

    1. Droid says:

      You have to click the box a few times until it becomes this solid black square mark that indicates a partially checked sub-list. If you can’t enable that, you’re not sufficiently robotic to enable that option. It’s a blue choice, see.

    2. evilmrhenry says:

      The standard computer science perspective is already to assume a possible attacker has access to your source code. I don’t see what problems removing IP protection from secure software would create. (I don’t think it would have the intended effect, but that’s a different topic.)

  12. Droid says:

    My most recent game was Minit. A nice little gem, even though Joseph Anderson trashed it a bit in a recent video of his. There’s enough story, puzzles and gameplay to keep you entertained for ~2-3h on your first run, and a total of ~5h if you want to 100% it. No bad return on 10$ of investment.

    Well, TECHNICALLY, Subnautica is newer, but release dates of Early Access titles, as Syal already noted in a comment above, are just a big farce.

    Ah, who am I kidding, I’m not going to turn down such an opportunity to write a wall of text on a game I recently finished.

    As much as I hate survival games in general, because they’re mostly high-stress games, I REALLY LOVED Subnautica. Partially because its sandbox gameplay was pretty subtly (but more and more firmly) supported by the progression of an actual story with an actual end. But partially also because through its great, terrifying sound design (mixed with an actually pretty lax difficulty), it repeatedly managed to instil in me a really deep, instinctual fear that subsided pretty much as soon as you were out of sight of whatever caused the audio cue … OF DOOM.
    I think the devs put it best when they said: Subnautica is a TERROR game, not a HORROR one. You are not constantly under stress. Nor are you always afraid of the same things. Nor do you stay weak for the whole game. In fact, once you’re at the end of the story and ready to press the button to let the credits roll, you can return the favour and bully pretty much all your old nemeses, except the ones literally at the top of the food chain.

    And have I mentioned the excellent sound design yet?

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Does my most recent game count if I haven’t played it yet? Bought it for the weekend, then due to some other things coming up, haven’t got around to playing. That game being, AER Memories Of Old. Looks pretty cool, a Zelda-like (the 3D cel-shaded ones) game where you fly around in bird form, and walk around as human. Nice cartoon aesthetic, and good reviews!

  13. Regarding licenses it’s relatively simple.

    If you wish to “open source” the game and the code and assets do this:

    License the code under the “2 clause BSD” or “MIT” or “zlib aka PNG” license, these are compatible with pretty much all other license out there and very permissive.

    License the game/assets under Creative Commons Attribution (4.0 International) license.

    If you want to release it for non-commercial use then use the Share-Alike variant of the CC license instead as this allows Wikipedia or similar organizations to distribute it, the Non-Commercial variant prevents Wikipedia/Wikimedia from selling DVDs with the media as this is classified as “commercial sales” even if there is no profit in it.
    Share-Alike requires whomever adapts/uses the media or game to release it under the same license. They can profit from it but they can’t employ any DRM nor prevent anyone from just copying without paying (aka Share Alike), paying become optional (or possibly donation based).

    I have some future projects planned and they will use either CC-BY or CC-BY-SA for the content and zlib license for the code.

    And for those curious, why the zlib license rather than MIT or 2-clause BSD? Because the zlib one is the most terse, and IT IS NOT YELLING AT THE READER in it’s disclaimer unlike all others.
    There is no legal requirement that disclaimers must be all caps, just that it’s prominent/obvious/easily noticed, and placing the disclaimer as the first paragraph accomplishes this without having to yell it.

    Oh and yes, this means the game (assets+code) will be dual licensed. This is acceptable and neither the zlib and CC licenses prevents this, nor are they mutually exclusive.

    Also note that by game assets I mean audio/music/gfx/images/fonts/dialog.
    By code I mean the source code of the game (minus the other assets).

    Thus you license the assets under CC and the code under zlib.

    This split licensing also makes porting or game engine migration way simpler.
    One developer may wish to re-use all assets but a use a different/new game engine. While another developer may wish to use the game engine but none of the assets.

  14. Axcalibar says:

    The last version of Minecraft I played until recently was 1.8. My thinking was, the amount of content that’s been put out since then should be roughly equal to a modpack… right? So I tried the latest version, explored for 4 hours, and wondered why I hadn’t seen any of the new content. Something I’ve realized through programming my own games is that for every feature I add, everything becomes less common, and have yet to find a good way to calibrate the generation. I suspect the waters are just too muddied.

  15. WarlockOfOz says:

    Hi Shamus, I’d like to gift you Destiny 2 (via Humble monthly) because I’d love to see you do a Hellgate style deconstruction of it. please reply privately with the best email to use. Thanks

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