Diecast #234: Titanic Demo, Canvas Bags, Python, C#

By Shamus Posted Monday Dec 3, 2018

Filed under: Diecast 60 comments

I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed making this episode. If you usually give the podcast a miss but you’re curious about it, then this is a good one to start with.

I think we’re going to have SoldierHawk on next week. If you have any questions for either of us, the show email is in the header image.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
00:00 The amazing Titanic re-creation in Unreal Engine 4

Link (YouTube)

You can get the demo here.

14:55 Fallout 76 canvas bag controversy.

Link (YouTube)

40:33 Subjectivity and Labeling Opinions


I think you saw this video already (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gu8u2SxarEE). You’ll probably comment on this, considering that the topic is close to you.

If you decide to do it, just try not to apply this to JA or talk about him specifically, since it’s a bit of contagious right now (and I respect you that much, so I’d warn you stay away from potential e-drama; I mean, you’d probably piece it together while reading comments, but I’ll save you some time). If you want a short version, JA made a SOMA video, Mauler when he made his (very good itself, even if my opinion is closer to JA’s) series about Amnesia/SOMA, where he did some digs about some of JA’s quotes, and his somewhat… abrasive style (I can say i feels more on light hearted side, and not like he wishes ill will on people he comments, but you know how people read into this), well, people as a result put one against the other (though, Mauler told some positives about JA in other stuff). It returned with JA’s video about horror games, and Mauler made a 3 hour stream (IIRC, it called EFAP), with friends, where they vivisected JA’s video (granted, it could’ve been done better, but I don’t mind, since I get his idea). And now this JA’s video about objectivity looks more like a passive-agressive answer to Mauler and his fans (JA didn’t mention him directly, or acknowledged Mauler publicly, but it’s 70% likely that that’s the case). So… Be careful. I do hope that these two found a common ground and talk with each other, since I respect both of them

Best regards, DeadlyDark

Link (YouTube)

50:35 Learning to Code

Dear Diecastles,

My son is 11 years old, plays Minecraft all day, and is really into the command block/programming side of the game. He has dabbled with Scratch a fair bit, but wants to move on to more standard programming. He has taken an interest in coding with C++, C#, or Python.

How does he get started with making things with these programming languages? What does he need on his computer to get started? Is there one language that he should learn first?


Zeta Kai

1:02:34 Optical Drives vs. Physical Media

Dear Diecast

The other day I was having an argument with someone regarding the relevancy of physical media in relation to modern PC gaming. My argument was that most gamers who build a new PC opt out of having an optical drive because there is no reason for it and that even some of the biggest modern releases such as Assassin’s Creed Oddessy don’t even bother with a physical release.

This raises the question when last did you use a physical disk to install a new game and how often to you even use your optical drive.



Back in 2006 I predicted that going all-digital wouldn’t happen because it can’t replicate shopping as passtime / social activity. Now it looks like I was wrong.

Note that this hasn’t happened to music or movies. Both of those products still have a strong physical presence in stores and neither of them have these ridiculous ownership problems. Flood came out 28 years ago, but I own it and I don’t have to authenticate with some remote server to listen to the music. I don’t have to log into 20th Century Fox to watch my physical copy of Die Hard.

Are the publishers moving away from physical disks because consumers don’t want them, or are they pushing digital sales because they want more control? Is this a rational financial decision, or an uninformed move by people who don’t understand the consumer’s needs?


From The Archives:

60 thoughts on “Diecast #234: Titanic Demo, Canvas Bags, Python, C#

  1. Mephane says:

    Back in 2006 I predicted that going all-digital wouldn’t happen because it can’t replicate shopping as passtime / social activity. Now it looks like I was wrong.

    We still buy retail games on physical media, however only ever so rarely. It’s when a store happens to sell something cheaper than on Steam (usually because they wan’t to free some shelf space). We actually only buy it for the Steam key, never use the actual disc.

    1. Matt Downie says:

      Back in 2006, people were saying, “I will always want to own discs because then I have a thing I can reliably play or lend or sell, without requiring someone’s permission or an internet connection or a long download.”

      But then we invented install limits, and internet DRM even when you were trying to run from a disc, and mandatory giant patches.

      It’s hard to stay loyal to physical media when physical media abandons all its advantages over digital.

      1. Tizzy says:

        The giant patches are the real physical media killers: what’s the point of having v1.0 of a game? This is the most obvious point where the comparison with film and music breaks down, too. Though something else worth mentioning: physical media are HEAVY, once you build up a decent collection. And harder to sort through.

    2. Hector says:

      I would also love to be able to gift somebody an actual *thing*. In several cases, I just gave up on trying to give people games because I literally couldn’t give them a copy. Either they were on a different platform, or we weren’t pre-specificed “Internet Buddies.” And giving people gift cards is often a rather lame solution – and sometimes impossible. Often you can’t even give custom gift cards; they’re just bought in preset amounts. Because *that’s* how you show somebody you care.

      I used to get, and give, video games as a little box in wrapping paper with a ribbon and bow. Now I don’t bother.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        My personal situation / view – my brother, my friends, and myself all usually own the things we want So, we always tell friends and family, to get us gifts like a nice lasagna, chocolates, cash, etc. However, sometimes we don’t know a thing exists at all; If you told one of us about a new game we’ve never heard of (or any product, for that matter; a new / better pocket-knife!), we’d be very happy for the information itself. A gift-card / Steam-wallet funds would be a nice bonus, but is unnecessary. :)

  2. Redrock says:

    I own both a laptop and a gaming PC, and neither have CD-drives (yeah, I know, DVD, Blu-Ray, whatever I call them CD-drives and probably will forever). I just never use them anymore, and using the space for an extra hard drive was the obvious choice when I was building my PC. I also tend to buy digital for my consoles, just because I hate seeing cases take up space and swapping discs is a bit of a hassle. But that’s not a very strong conviction, as I readily buy physical if it’s cheaper. Personally, I’d be interested to see PC games get physical releases on cartridges, like the ones Nintendi Switch uses. They’re handy, compact, and can stiil be easily sold or traded-in or whatever. But discs, well, as a consumer I’m sincerely not interested in buying discs these days.

    1. John says:

      I built my current PC a couple of years ago. It has an optical drive because my last PC did and because I occasionally want to (a) re-install old games, (b) rip or re-rip music from CDs, or (c) capture stuff from DVDs. I don’t use it all that often, but I just re-watched Return of the Jedi last night and now I want to re-install Tie Fighter.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        You can get optical drives that plug in with USB, if you want to rip old discs. When you’re not ripping, it can get off your desk, and go back in the closet. :)

        1. Redrock says:

          Yeah, that was my thinking exactly at the time of building. Only I never actually felt the need to go and get a usb optical drive since then.

      2. Geebs says:

        I just built a new PC, and about 8 out of 10 of the “enthusiast” cases I looked at – and I’m talking mid- and full- towers, not even mini-ITX stuff – don’t even have anywhere to put an optical drive.

        That said, most enthusiast builds have so many lights on the inside of the case a DVD drive probably wouldn’t even work.

  3. Dragmire says:

    I heard Bethesda sent some Youtubers/influencers actual canvas bags. If true, that’s probably the next step into worse PR.

    1. Hector says:

      Specifically, YongYea was among those who got them.

      Additionally, they had a very select pre-release event which just happened to include accomodations at a very swanky resort. And some of those who attended had, shall we say, unusually positive views of the game.

  4. Joe says:

    In a way, the Fallout 76 response reminds me of TLJ. Some people like it, though they acknowledge it’s wonky. Danny O’Dwyer of Noclip, for example. But those that don’t are really vocal about it. I haven’t played 76. A multiplayer survival/crafting game doesn’t appeal to me at all. However, I have nothing good to say about the bag BS. That’s just no good at all, and an apparently tone deaf response is adding insult to injury.

    Last time I used a CD drive was to rip a couple of CDs to my HD, earlier this year. Last time I used it to install a game would be a couple of years ago. An old game where the Steam version doesn’t work properly. Last new game? As far as I can remember, KOTOR II in 2005 or 06.

    1. Redrock says:

      I don’t think it’s just that it’s wonky. Most people acknowledge it’s a bad idea that’s not all that well executed. Basically, it’s a stripped down online Fallout 4 without NPCs and without ways to make the most out of the online component. No persistent building, for one thing, so no way to actually roleplay building a community with a group of buddies. So it’s not exactly like TLJ.

  5. Daimbert says:

    On programming, I like Python because with IDLE the language is interpreted instead of compiled, which means that it’s pretty easy to write small programs and load them into it and see what happens quickly and easily, without having to compile it into executables to run and having to get bigger IDEs to get that to work. It also covers a lot of the concepts — including objects — while making some things — like list iteration — quick and easy.

    On the downside, it defining blocks by whitespace can be confusing.

  6. Lino says:

    Really interesting episode. I think Bethesda has really been getting a free pass on their shoddy quality – even the press thought their bugs were “cute” and part of their “charm”. But with games like the Witcher III, Just Cause, and even Ubisoft’s sandbox game (contrary to popular belief, Ubisoft has only one sanbdbox game), audiences’ quality standards have gone up. Bethesda just need to catch up to that…
    On the subject of programming languages, I’ve recently started learning R for Data Science (through books and videos), and even though I really like it, I feel like I’m starting to hit a wall, mainly because I don’t feel like I’ve built a good base in it. A friend of mine (who’s a pretty experienced programmer) said that Python is a much better choice for someone who’s starting out. But I don’t know – I’m about halfway through a book about R, and if I start learning Python now, I feel like I’ll have just wasted my time up until now…

    1. Daimbert says:

      The good thing about most programming languages is that at the very basic level you’ll still be learning concepts that are useful and can be applied to other programming languages. So basic ideas carry over, and it’s mostly just the syntax and some slightly different concepts that you need to learn. I took a quick look at R, though, and that one may not be as clean as others are … but since it does seem to do some scripting type stuff it’s not a bad introduction to how you can use Python — typing it out one line at a time into the interpreter — and moving to functions and classes later.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Agreed. At root, all programming is about thinking and communicating in a rigorously logical and mathematical way. That discipline is transferable, no matter what syntax you’re using.
        Programming also builds confidence that computer systems are understandable and capable of being tamed, if tackled with enough honesty and commitment, and that lesson applies to life in general.

    2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      R-Studio made my life so much easier when I was learning R.

    3. Echo Tango says:

      I think Bethesda’s burning through their good will; Eventually, they’ll either start making better products, or people will stop paying for their shoddy work. :S

      1. galacticplumber says:

        I mean I was in on fallout 3, turned to new vegas and vastly preferred it, had a rocky relationship with skyrim, saw what they were doing with fallout 4 and said no.

        It had become blatantly obvious that while they got me into open world, they weren’t interested in fleshing out the best parts of that.

      2. Sleeping Dragon says:

        This is exactly what I thought. We all know Bethesda open world games have issues, they tend to be buggy, the UI can be atrocious, the main storylines tend to be poor to generic. Yet they’ve not only been getting away with it but have in fact built a decent fanbase that is willing to buy the games mostly for the sandbox aspect and swallow the “modders will fix it” approach to issues.

        And now it’s like they’re purposefully trying to destroy all of that. I know some people were already a touch miffed about 76 being multiplayer (and after Bethesda made a show of being “the defender of single-player games”). Then when it comes out first the game has issues, which is to be expected but you’d think they’d at least disable console commands for a multiplayer game with PvP elements. Then there are the bags, then the response to the bags, then the handling of the response which sounds more like “this person was not allowed to tell you this” rather than “this is not true”. I also heard something about not crediting outside devs who worked on the game? This is so baffling if someone was trying to sabotage Bethesda’s image they could hardly do a better job.

    4. Geebs says:

      R is actually pretty different from a lot of other languages. It’s mostly descended from S, but outside of the basic implementation, packages tend to use whatever the hell syntax the developer happened to feel like that day.

      Not that the base package is all that syntactically consistent either; it’s very easy to get tripped up by the use of & versus &&, | versus ||, = versus == etc. especially if you come from a C background. These errors sometimes result in changes to your original data, so beware.

      R is also heavily into pseudoparallelism – it likes to pretend that serial operations on a list of values are a parallel operation on a vector. They’re actually not; most of the Internet Opinions People who like to pick on R newbies for asking why they can’t just write a for… statement usually go on to admit as much by talking about the “blazing fast C loops” that underlie R’s vector operations, which kind of gets up my nose. Therefore you write serial operations very differently.

      Basically, if you need R – then learn R. If you’re learning R purely as an introduction to general programming, then stop, forget everything you already learned, and pick up Python or something.

  7. Bubble181 says:

    I haven’t been able to listen to the podcast, so this may be already addressed and discussed in incredible detail, but one of the best ways of learning coding basics and more really is Blockly. It starts pretty basic and as more or less just a puzzle solver game, but gradually builds up and some of the later stages are, frankly, me difficult programming than I can do. Mind that I’m not a professional programmer, of course.
    It also allows you to see how different languages solve the same problem, and teaches someone about ptoper coding structure.
    It’s accessible to children and fairly intuitive for the new generation (less so for its old people who think more like Windows and less like a touch screen Android).

    1. John says:

      I think my daughter uses Blockly at school in Coding Club. She doesn’t describe it terribly well, but “puzzle solver game” sounds about right. She went to a Maker Weekend event for kids at a nearby college recently and learned about Scratch. Since then, she’s made several simple Space Invaders-type games and a few short animations. She’s also working on an advent calendar. My impression is that she prefers Scratch to Blockly because, as Shamus suggests, it lets her produce interesting stuff quickly. I like Scratch because it’s web-based and she can use it on her Chromebook. Coding is a mixture of both drag-and-drop and text-editing. She doesn’t need an IDE or know how to use a compiler. In fairness, I think all these things are true of Blockly as well.

      I should add that my daughter is 10. If she were a little older (or expressed a serious interest) I’d get her started on a full-fledged computer language. The only one I know reasonably well is Java, but it could be fun for us to learn a new language–Python, say–together.

  8. Nicholas Pitino says:

    I’m one of those obstinate dinosaurs who still buys physical media.

    When I built my current PC I specifically bought one of those super-duper M-Disc drives so I can burn archival Blu-Ray discs of all of my most important backups that will supposedly last 1000 years, but I’ll settle for them just outliving me for now. On top of that I can and do go and bust out the 20 year old Half-Life 1 install CD from time to time so I can take trips down mod memory lane without having to fuss with Steam patches and all of that. Same thing with my old Command & Conquer discs if I want the play the first two games (which both happen to be the Good Ones and also Not On Steam.)

    I realize that this isn’t the same as still buying new games on physical media, but for what it’s worth I backup all of my GOG installers onto disc. On top of that every game I purchase if it is available on GOG vs Steam I buy the GOG one every single time.

    If I still did a lot of console gaming you can bet I’d still be buying physical games in cases. I have exactly zero long term faith in digital downloads from the likes of Microsoft or Sony to not eventually go “Oops, we shut down support for that service. Must suck to be you huh? Buy the new console and maybe we’re re-release some of those games as ‘classics’ so you can buy them from us again!

    And don’t get me started on things like movies.

    If I was to hop onto Netflix right now I can say with certainty that about 80 to 90 percent of what I look for to watch is going to be unavailable. Same with Amazon Prime, (unless I buy or ‘rent’ it) and I’m not even going to try picking up nonsense like Hulu or CBS or whatever. These services aren’t god damn Pokemon and I’m not trying to catch them all.

    I want to watch Babylon 5?

    Not on Netflix right now, good thing I own the DVD’s!

    I want to watch Mad Max: Beyond Thunder Dome?

    Not on Netflix right now, good thing I own the DVD!

    I want to watch Big Trouble in Little China?

    Not on Netflix right now, good thing I own the DVD!

    I want to watch What We Do in the Shadows?

    Not on Netflix right now, good thing I own the DVD!

    I pulled up Netflix to make sure that whatever examples I used weren’t on there just so I don’t get bit by some pedant going, “Well acktcshully…” And you know what? Those four examples are the first things I looked for off the top of my head. I didn’t even have to try multiple times to find examples!

    I can understand people not liking the space DVD’s take up and trying to reduce clutter in their home, but as the situation currently stands between unavailability on subscription streaming and the ludicrous prices that Amazon wants…just having a physical copy is the better value proposition from where I stand. Hell, giving the old brick-n-mortar end of things credit where credit is due the existence of the $5 DVD/Blu-Ray bargain-bin at WalMart means that physical ownership is often cheaper than digital ownership. They’re always available, they always work, I can take them over to friend’s homes for movie night and reliably expect them to always work there.

    1. Hal says:

      You’re not wrong about the bargain bin, except I’ve never looked in one and found something you wouldn’t have to pay ME to take away.

      1. John says:

        I have a few bargain bin games in my collection, mostly jewel-case or cardboard sleeve editions of older games. My two best finds were the Sid Meier’s Pirates! remake and Galactic Civilization II. My cheapest find ever was X3: Terran Conflict for just two bucks. It’s been a few years since I last saw a bargain bin, however.

    2. CoyoteSans says:

      I built my machine with just an ordinary DVD-burner so I can easily burn copies of my grandpa’s home movies I digitize as a personal off-and-on-again pet project for the older members of my extended family, but I could probably have just as easily gotten by with a USB-connected external disc drive. Otherwise, yeah, optical is mostly dead for our house since we don’t really have the budget these days for Blu-Ray (excuse me, we’ve apparently upgraded to Blu-Ray 4K HDR now, your old Blu-Ray player is now worthless) players and discs. Even Windows 10 and Linux are always installed off a dedicated and very rewriteable USB 3.0 thumbstick now.

      You’ll pry our Star Wars Original VHS Version tapes from my cold, dead hands though.

    3. Fizban says:

      If/when the first digital distributor goes belly up and everyone loses their libraries, or more insulting, is told to relocate to some other distributor who’s “rescued” the most lucrative titles but still missing many of their favorites- maybe there will be some return to physical?

      Probably not actually since “everything” is driven by the lowest common denominator triple-ayy only users, and I doubt a single digital storefront would ever not be bought up entirely by another company, and I further doubt that any specific games on those have deals that prevent that change of ownership (because the store would want to preserve their own value if sold).

      I would say that an indy-friendly “print on demand” thing would be nice, but there’s already GoG for that, since you can back them on on whatever you want (as far as I know).

      1. Echo Tango says:

        I don’t think we’d return to physical media, just for the benefit of having our own copies of the things we’ve paid for. Sure, that’s one way of ensuring digital goods aren’t wiped out when the servers die, but DRM-free copies are another way to do it. GOG doesn’t have nearly the selection that Steam does, and games on GOG often have updates later than other platforms (or sometimes never…) but GOG at least lets you have the games DRM-free. You can back them up onto as many external discs as you want, and put them in a fireproof filing cabinet. That by itself is the reason I give GOG first dibs, on where I purchase from.

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    Some stuff came out early that Fallout 76 has no server-side verification, so any player can just poke values into local memory and have the server make them an infinite ammo teleporting immortal or whatever. Based on this, I planned to buy the game because programming the cheats for it seemed like an interesting experience. When I saw gameplay, I decided that not even playing as an omnipotent hackerman would make 76 fun.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      That’s the most damning appraisal of this game I’ve ever seen. :D

  10. Supah Ewok says:

    I still install Windows and various programs from a disc. I’ve also got a Blu-ray drive in there. I’ve got old games, some bands I like don’t have digital releases, I’ve got a physical movie collection from diving into the clearance bins or sales, not everything is available to be streamed anyway… plenty of reason to still have a disc drive aside from gaming.

    Edit: not sure if it’s something you took out Shamus, but I didn’t see the “Not a Robot” tick box when I made my comment, on mobile.

  11. John says:

    Hm. It might not be a big deal for Zeta Kai or his son, but to the best of my admittedly limited knowledge C# is a Microsoft thing and not fully open-source or cross-platform. In particular I believe that the GUI libraries are all still proprietary and Windows-only. If you wanted to make a C# program that worked on Linux, for example, you’d need an open-source implementation of C# like Mono and a different GUI toolkit like Gtk or Qt. If Zeta Kai’s son is interested in making games, however, then C# is a probably a good choice, since Unity uses Mono C# and, apparently thanks to a five-figure donation from Microsoft, the open-source Godot game engine can do so as well.

  12. Chris says:

    When Paul asked if there was still a worse thing, and Shamus said no, I felt kinda sad. Would’ve been great if he addressed the kicker that invited journalists for the preview party did get some canvas bag. In other words, bethesda cares more about pleasing the journalists that have to paddle their stuff to the public, than the ultrafans that want to pay 200 bucks for the ultimate edition. And I cant believe that they only are willing to give 5 bucks in monopoly money. I think it happened because the guy at twitter isnt allowed to give away big amounts at random and was only allowed to give at most 500 atoms to people to shut them up. So this 500 atoms mistake was because some low tier PR guy couldn’t offer any more.

    The JA video made me think yet again “dangit JA you have a point but please just learn how to write a compact script, you somehow managed to make a 17 minute video out of maybe a 5 minute issue”. He really needs an editor to just cut the fat.

    As for the optical drive. I always used to have one but I bought a new PC case and it didnt have any place for a disk drive, so now my diskdrive is in the “extra cables and weird PC pieces” box. I remember putting my COD black ops disk in my computer and it made me install steam (I didnt have steam at this point) then inside of steam it started downloading the game. So basically the entire disk was just a game steam code to plug in on steam automatically. So not only is it stupid, it also means that if you would buy a game on disk to not have to download stuff (due low internet speed or a data cap) you’re screwed. About buying games on impulse, steam sales kinda does that. Who doesn’t know the guy/is the guy who has 500 games he bought for 80% off but never plays. Finally, to install from a USB stick. You go to the BIOS, put it so that it will first try to boot off the USB stick, then you prepare a USB stick. You take the windows ISO, you get a USB windows program. You open that program, select the iso, select the USB stick, then it will create some kind of installer on the USB stick. Then you can boot off the USB stick as if it was a windows disk.
    And about sharing or selling the disk. That kinda happens a lot less, the games are easier to get at steam, cheaper, and you dont have any supply limitations. People don’t think a lot about buying anything. They just get the game and want to play it right then, right there. And the online bargain bin like those key reseller sites are there if you really want to get something cheap. Sure it doesn’t allow you to pass on a game, but a lot of people don’t care or don’t think that far ahead. Same with Ebooks. Its cheap and fast, so why not? Even though it means you cannot pass on the book after reading it. That person has to buy it himself.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      There it is! Yep, that’s the final worst thing.
      Although, while it is sad, “the press” has always received special treatment. So, it’s not an exceptional insult to the customers.

      Well, at least your comment on the rambling was concise.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      The 500 in-game currency is a mistake, no matter which way you look at it. OK, maybe this one employee wasn’t allowed to give out a larger remuneration. However, they should have been able to raise this concern up the chain of command, to somebody who *could*. If they weren’t, that’s a problem with the business culture / power structure in the company. If they were listened to by somebody higher up, who then ignored the problem with customers being angry, then *that*’s a problem. Nothing about how the company handled this situation is good.

  13. Hal says:

    Is the bad press from the bag controversy going to hurt Bethesda at all? Because it seems to me like this will be water under the bridge to a great many folks when Elder Scrolls 6 finally sees the light of day.

    1. Matthew Downie says:

      People will still buy it, but I’m betting they’re going to be very wary of buying the Collector’s Edition of it.

    2. Majikkani_Hand says:

      The Elder Scrolls ARE my childhood, in a way. I’m a huge fan, and am actually playing Morrowind right now. I will probably wait a bit before buying TES6, because of all the shit they’ve pulled with their other titles of late. I don’t want to play an Elder Scrolls game that will make me feel sad.

    3. Sleeping Dragon says:

      It is getting some traction because they’re making mistakes at Every Single Step of handling it. There’s also a bunch of other issues related to 76 that get brought to light more because the bag controversy is making the rounds.

      Do I think it will seriously affect sales of TES6? Probably not. What it might affect is the sales of another collector’s edition. It’s also something that will be called out if Bethesda seriously messes up again. Probably won’t bring the company down but might shake it up a little.

  14. Liessa says:

    The other Titanic game Paul referred to is Titanic: Adventure Out of Time. The graphics were quite impressive(for the time), and the story was interesting, but the puzzles… let’s just say, one of the few things I remember is that you had to deliberately let yourself get shot in the head in order to get the best ending. :P I wasn’t that impressed overall when I played it, but maybe you guys would appreciate the ‘simulation’ aspects more than I did.

    The plot of Titanic: Honor and Glory also reminds me of another adventure game called The Last Express, where you play a fugitive who boards the Orient Express on the eve of WWI in 1914. An amazing game, with hands-down the best writing and voice-acting (in 5 different languages!) that I’ve ever seen in a videogame, but sadly it was so expensive to make that it pretty much bankrupted the developer.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yes! That looks like the one. I didn’t own it myself, but a friend had a copy and I would play it a bit when we went over to visit.

      At least The Last Express was aptly named, unlike all those Final Fantasy games.

  15. parkenf says:

    Hi folks would appreciate some help here – relevant to a previous article, but probably audience has abandoned that. My son has decided he wants to move onto Gaming PC from his current PS4 based gaming – mainly because he wants to play Flight Simulator and AAA games on the same platform. I’m a bit clueless on this, it’s late in the day for Christmas so don’t have a lot of time for research so we’re looking at pre-builds like this one on Amazon but I don’t know what I should be looking for?

    Is there a difference between DDR3 and DDR4 RAM?

    Is there a significant difference between a Nvidia GTX 1050Ti 4GB, a Nvidia GTX 1050 2GB and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GDDR5X 4K Pascal architecture? And Pascal architecture? Why not fortran?

    Is ADMI a good marque?

    I’m not an IT novice by any stretch, but I don’t know about PC gaming at all. Any assitance gratefully received.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I buy all my computer hardware on Newegg.com
      Every time I have to re-investigate the different hardware standards, and consult with my PC guru friends. I haven’t built a pc in the past few years (My latest was 2015), so all my specific advice is out of date. You may have some luck asking on the forums, specifically this thread. https://www.shamusyoung.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=793
      But, essentially, if you build it yourself, you’ll save 15% to 50%, especially if you wait until the hardware is on sale. Like I said, I can’t comment on the specific hardware, but here are my rough price targets. You can build a “workable” rig for ~$600 (which will be fine as long as he doesn’t turn the settings all the way up). A “pretty good” computer goes for ~$1k which will do everything but VR, and a “really good” VR computer goes for about $2k.

    2. Matthew Downie says:

      DDR 4 is a better RAM because the number is bigger.

      The GTX 1050Ti 4Gb is better than the GTX 1050 2Gb because it has more letters and more Gbs.

      Rule of thumb: if it’s more expensive, it’s slightly better.

      Moderately priced PCs can handle modern games; they don’t require bleeding edge hardware like they used to. You still need a lot of power if you want VR or have a very high resolution monitor to keep happy.

      Also, SSDs load much faster, so make sure you have a decent SSD.

    3. John says:

      DDR4 is faster than DDR3 but I honestly don’t know if you’d be able to notice the difference without running some benchmarks. I probably couldn’t. My view is that memory speed is seldom the bottleneck for game performance.

      The 1050 Ti is slightly faster than the 1050. The more important difference is 4 GB vs 2 GB, which makes the 1050 Ti substantially better. More memory means less frequent texture loading, among other things. The 1050 Ti is still a passable budget graphics card and it’s supposed to be able to run AAA games at fairly high framerates and fairly high settings at 1080p. I’ve got one myself and it’s handled everything I’ve thrown at it, but I don’t play a lot of AAA games. I have never heard anyone recommend the base 1050 for any reason. I don’t recall much about the 1060 (I think it comes in 3 GB and 6 GB versions) but if it has more memory than the 1050 Ti then it’s probably better performance wise but not necessarily value-wise. I don’t think that any of the cards you mentioned are supposed to be good for 4K gaming (at least not at high framerates on high settings) but I may be wrong about the 1060.

      I hope that helps. Good luck.

    4. Bubble181 says:

      I cannot recommend Logical Increments enough. It’s a part lister site that will show you all parts you need, and will help determine balanced builds. That is, you won’t end up with a super duper video card hobbled by a motherboard that can’t supply all the card needs, or whatever. Take a look.

    5. Geebs says:

      Don’t buy a cheap gaming PC on Amazon UK, full stop. The reputable companies sell on Amazon as well, at higher price points, but the cheaper no-name stuff often seems to have dubious small-print attached like second-hand processors and motherboards, made up for by lots of glowy bits. You get what you pay for.

      If your son wants to play flight sims, go for a higher-end CPU; a Pentium won’t cut it. Intel i5 / AMD 2700 or better.

      A 1060 or a Radeon 580 is plenty good enough for 1080p in almost all games with decent graphics settings.

      I’m not sure I would buy anything with DDR3 in it – not because it’s necessarily that much slower for real-world applications, more because those parts are likely to be super old stock and likely second hand / refurbished.

      I buy my PC parts from Novatech in the UK, including all of the components for my recent build, and haven’t had a problem with them yet. Putting a modern PC together from parts only takes about 4-6 hours *even if you barely know what you are doing*, but the cost savings are fairly minor and warranties are more of a problem. I only built my own because of a combination of a very tight budget, wanting specific components for future upgradability, curiosity, and not wanting to wait a week for the professionals to put it together.

      The only useful tip I have for a new build is: if it doesn’t boot the first time you turn it on, take out all but one RAM stick and try again.

  16. INH5 says:

    Console games are still sold in stores and even available for rent through Redbox, last I checked.

    Here’s my theory: console games and movies and CDs can be resold, but because of things like install limits and DRM, PC games cannot for the most part. If something can be resold, then new copies have to compete with used copies and rentals, which puts downward pressure on the price. These pressures don’t seem to impact digital distribution nearly as much, probably because they cater to a market that is willing and able to pay a premium for convenience.

    At least, that’s the only explanation I can think of for why buying a digital copy of a movie directly through Vudu or Amazon will often cost significantly more than buying a physical copy that includes a disc as well as a code that can be redeemed for a digital copy on Vudu.

    If physical copies can’t be resold, then there’s no incentive to price them any lower than digital copies, so digital ends up being more convenient but costing the same.

  17. Grimwear says:

    My biggest issue with the Fallout 76 disaster is that they a) refuse refunds on it b) were continuing to market it as a canvas bag (checking now they changed it to nylon) and c) it can literally be proven to be false marketing. You can take them to court for that. I know we’ve had those “fake trailers” lawsuits that went nowhere but this is provably buying a good and receiving a different good in return. There’s an actual case here and Bethesda doesn’t seem to care. They are not trying to fix the issue! I sincerely hope they get reamed out over this. I remember the estus flask fiasco with the dark souls 3 limited edition but even though the quality was garbage it was still resin. There’s no way you can call nylon canvas. I’m real tired of games companies thinking basic things don’t apply to them. Fighting governments over lootboxes, game prices (though some publishers are actually getting better at this), and now this madness. I don’t even have a horse in this race and it makes me angry. And if I’d bought it I’d be darn sure to be getting a refund or I’d get a lawyer on principle. I saw Leonard French made a video addressing the false advertising of Fallout though I haven’t watched it.

  18. Jason says:

    Apparently Bethesda has finally given in on the bags and is offering canvas bags, but you have to fill out a ticket on their site. I’m sure they only relented because of all the backlash.

  19. Fizban says:

    Regarding optical drives: I have one, and just used it the other day to watch a movie, though I haven’t done that in ages (will do more as I borrow movies that Netflix doesn’t have). My dvd player is buried ’cause I don’t use it and I don’t have any of the new consoles that play dvds (let alone blurays), so the drive in my desktop is the drive I’d use.

    To me, it seems pretty unfathomable to order a computer without a (optical) disk drive. If you’re already paying $1000+ for a nice new rig, the cost of putting in the cheapest default optical drive is tiny, and it’s completely unobtrusive. So what if it sits there for years- if you don’t have one, you know you’re gonna end up wishing you did when some old thing turns up that needs it. There is almost no chance that you’ve actually archived literally everything you ever had on disk to flash or external HD. If you build your own I could see leaving one out, because putting it in when you’re not using it would feel annoying, and you probably have one laying around already so it’s not like you don’t *have* one. And I’m pretty sure all the pre-made comps are still carrying optical drives, so that’s everyone covered.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      Back when I built my current gaming computer in 2014 I did add an optical drive partly exactly because it wasn’t very expensive compared to the cost of the computer, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually used it. Maybe once.

      Regarding physical media, in my case one huge factor for eschewing physical media (I think the last game I bought that way was KotOR II, back in 2009) is the fact that I move a lot more than I suspect the average person does. I’ve already lived in 11 different houses in 5 U.S. states and 4 other countries, and as I’m getting my PhD at the moment I foresee somewhere in the nature of 3–5 additional moves over the next decade before I can realistically start looking at actually settling down somewhere for the rest of my life as I’ve always wanted to do. And yeah, physical media are heavy, take up space, and cost money to move. Currently I can just ship my computer and all my games come with it.

      Edit: In case that comes off stronger than I intended, I just want to add that I mean no disrespect to those who still love their physical media; I just wanted to point out that there are reasons some of us are quite happy with being able to get away with less physical clutter.

    2. Matt Downie says:

      I kinda like owning nothing that can play discs. It ensures I don’t clutter up my place with obsolete physical media. So far I haven’t regretted it once.

  20. Distec says:

    What’s so surprising to me about the canvas bag issue is that this isn’t something I’d expect from Bethesda given my personal experience with the Doom CE and the Revenant figurine it came with.

    The one I initially received had a small doodad missing on one of his shoulders. Not even the kind of thing you’d notice unless you were comparing it directly to the image on the storefront. I contacted them for a replacement expecting the ‘tough shit’ treatment, but they sent me a new one for no additional charge. I actually got to keep the original and gave it to my brother since it was basically 95% fine.

  21. droid says:

    Objective Game Reviews is a website that reviews games while avoiding any subjective statements. Each review ends with a number between 5 and 10. The method for creating the number is not explained. 99 games have been reviewed. 1 demo has been reviewed but that page is not categorized as a game review. The latest review was published on 15 April 2014.

    Objective Game Reviews has a review of Mass Effect 3. There are also reviews that are not for Mass Effect 3.

  22. My advice for programming is Javascript + HTML + CSS.

    You can test the code changes by just pressing refresh (or F5) in the browser. You can use a editor as simple as Notepad.
    Though I suggest using Microsoft’s free and open source Visual Studio Code editor.

    Why web programming? It mostly works offline locally on the browser. Making your own website can be really fun.
    Javascript is similar to C++ and other languages. There is a bunch of examples and guides out there, a quick Googling will easily turn up useful stuff.

    With HTML and CSS structure and layout of interfaces and UIs becomes a focus too and you’ll get almost immediate feedback on changes to the code. Making things look good at various display sizes and devices is good practice too.
    With “HTML5” level tech you can make image and audio editing/manipulations or even games. The Unreal 4 engine was ported/re-compiled to run in a modern browser too.

    In the past I would have said “C” as that is also the basis for many programming languages. But these days Javascript+HMTL+CSS just makes more sense to my eyes as a starting point as could also introduce you to multimedia, you have to maybe design artwork or sound effects etc.

  23. default_ex says:

    Physical media, specifically DVDs are always my go to for entertainment when I’m unable to have internet. Just moved into a house, had a couple weeks to get it ready to move in first because the electrical was a mess and the guys that started on the kitchen didn’t think “I should replace this 50+ year old cloth wrapped wire before it catches fire”. So I get in here and think, well I have an Xfinity Prepaid modem in a box, I’ll just call them up and activate service. Even though this house is covered by Xfinity service it is not allowed Xfinity prepaid for reasons they wont even reveal. Fine log into my old household service account through them to find they never credited my account the $260ish I paid to close it out, so no internet until they fix that which for Comcast takes time and lots of arguing even when you do have receipts to prove it (which I do).

    So I dug out my stack of DVDs. First one that caught my eye was Farscape, haven’t watched that in awhile. Hit eject and no dice, drive wont eject. Great, I only used this specific drive one time, it’s been in my PC since then ready to use. Open up the drive expecting to see the eject mechanism wiggled itself out of it’s grooves or something like that. Oh no the eject motor is so damn weak that it can eject but needs a little nudge to get it started. Really Hitachi, you used a motor that wears out from sitting unpowered, doesn’t get much cheaper than that. Even tried using silicone oil, same stuff one would use on a mechanical keyboard to no avail. So yeah now my drive has the face plate taken off so I can reach down and nudge the eject gear counter-clockwise after hitting the eject button.

    This isn’t an uncommon problem with disc drives. I have repaired a lot of disc drives, from PC drives to game console drives. My most recent was a PS3 that a kid put a disc in with peanut butter on it, sounds like death to a disc drive but most of the time you clean them up, oil them with silicone based oil and they work like new. Honestly I wouldn’t mind paying $10 more for a game if it came on a USB stick, that would be worth it. Considering purchasing a bulk box of USB sticks to move all my DVDs onto. Have 2-3 anime series or 1 seasons of live action per single layer disc thanks to transcoding them into a more compact format (I used to fuss over transcoder settings to strike that balance without sacrificing too much quality).

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