Diecast #249: Mysterious Email, Satisfactory, Outcast

By Shamus Posted Monday Mar 25, 2019

Filed under: Diecast 112 comments

In this episode, my email works when it shouldn’t, Satisfactory works better than it should, and my computer stops working right on time.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
01:55 Shamus’ Computer Died

Like I said on the show, this was the best possible version of the worst possible PC failure.

09:25 Email Mystery

I left 1&1 Hosting and got a new host last summer. The Diecast mail server was still located at something like gibberish.mail.1and1.com. I don’t understand how sending something @shamusyoung.com would end up with it winding up on the 1and1 server. What should have happened was that the mail system should have looked up my domain, found it at A2Hosting, attempted to deliver it, and then failed because the [email protected] address wasn’t set up at the new host.

Instead email went to the old host, even though routing shouldn’t put it there. The emails were stored, even though the account is long closed. Gmail was able to retrieve them, even though that login should no longer work.

Gmail was actually telling me that it was having trouble checking the email, but then I’d get email from the Diecast mailbox. I just… I can’t explain it.

I’m sure there’s a logical explanation to all of this, but I’m too lazy to think about it. As soon as I start pondering the insanity of 1&1, my brain wants to do literally anything else.

13:32 Godot Engine

Here’s the video showing off what the engine can do. It’s a bit ramble-y and light on details, so it’s probably best you just spool through it.

Link (YouTube)

21:57 Satisfactory

Link (YouTube)

34:06 Mailbag: Phoenix Point Controversy

Dear Diecast,
There is currently quite a bit of drama surrounding Phoenix Point, an upcoming kickstarter founded XCom-like. As it turns out Epic paid them a handsome sum (I heard 2 million dollars) for a one year exclusivity deal on the Epic Store. A LOT of the backers don’t want to have anything to do with the Epic Launcher which they consider shady, and are furious about it and ask for refunds. Unlike for Metro the Phoenix Point people don’t have steam/gog keys at all to give.
What do you fellas think about it, are they overreacting, are this a form of bait&switch, am I just using reddit drama to get a cool Overload key?
Much regards,
Gargamel Le Noir

53:26 Mailbag: Mass Effect and Planning Ahead

Dear Diecast,

I recently replayed Mass Effect 1 and could not help but notice how vague the conversation with Sovereign was — more “I am the vanguard of your destruction” and less “You are creating too much dark energy, so we are going to off ya”.

What is your opinion on my uninformed speculation that the writers might have not planned out the series as well as they should have in the beginning? Perhaps Mass Effect 2 and 3 were just a result of writers’ shortsightedness, what do you think?

In case you want more questions, here’s another — Recently, I read the story that was originally intended for Destiny. Basically, it was a deconstruction/subversion of the fantasy trope of light equals good, dark equals bad and protagonist equals hero. Of course, almost none of it made it into the final game but it did made me think: have you heard of any other stories that got canned because they were too “weird” or “out there”?


Vanguard of Construction

1:01:00 Forgotten Games from the 90s./ Outcast

During this segment I said Outcast 1.1 is graphics accelerated. Watching the trailer now, it looks like that’s not the case. It’s still doing its weird-ass CPU rendering, except now it can make use of modern multi-threaded processors.

Link (YouTube)

I’ve got a key to give away, so if you’d like to try it yourself just send us a question for the show. The email is in the header image.


From The Archives:

112 thoughts on “Diecast #249: Mysterious Email, Satisfactory, Outcast

  1. Infinitron says:

    Bloodlines 2, Shamus.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Shamus talks about games and related tech, not inbound trainwrecks.

    2. MadTinkerer says:

      I can’t even comment on Bloodlines 2 without breaking Shamus’ rules and it’s all the devs’ fault, so how about we just don’t.

      Or here: I’ll try to say as much as I can while skirting around the specifics. Vampire The Masquerade is a game based in vampire fiction, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to vampire movies to Ann Rice to basically everything before Buffy The Vampire slayer (mostly because V:TM 1st edition came out in 1991, but also because the writers felt some of the themes and more than a little of the lore of the Buffyverse were contrary to V:TM). It has some very specific themes that are grounded in the lore and game mechanics: inner character conflict, interpersonal conflict, fictional factional conflict, elitism, counter-culture, alternate lifestyles, fantasy-occult that draws inspiration from literature, and so on.

      The writers currently in charge seem to be completely hostile to everything the original setting represented, and utterly determined to remove everything that was interesting about the setting in favor of turning vampires into edgy Mary Sues that happen to use the same game mechanics for no good reason. They seem oblivious to the fact that the original game attracted a lot of female gamers when it first came out, and in some places the female fanbase was larger than the male fanbase. They seem determined to ignore a lot of the themes of classic vampire fiction (especially the whole “inner turmoil” part) in favor of their weird fanfictiony ideas of what vampires should be.

      They seem to personally be hostile to the reasons for The Masquerade, for crying out loud.

      My brother pointed out that what they’re talking about seems worse than Twilight to him. I think he might be right.

      And that’s about all I can say while sticking to the rules. As tmtvl said, “Shamus talks about games and related tech, not inbound trainwrecks.”

      1. Galad says:

        That’s uh, an interesting, bold claim. Got any more reading about it, so it’s not just your opinion?

        1. MadTinkerer says:

          You can find a bunch of interviews and tweets with a little Googling. I’m now over the shock of them daring to say what they said (that I can’t even repeat because it breaks Shamus’ rules), but I’m just too disgusted to read any more myself. Bloodlines is a dead franchise to me. I’m moving on and there’s still plenty of other games to play.

          At least they can’t ruin the book franchise because there’s plenty of the old books out there, including the perfectly decent semi-reboot of Old World of Darkness a few years back. I was actually thinking of selling my books, but I think I’ll hold on to them a little longer.

          1. Shamus says:

            I know it’s frustrating when the rules kill a discussion. Thanks so much for respecting them anyway.

      2. Scampi says:

        Are you talking about the P&P setting in general or the differences in the (assumed?) content of the cRPGs made from the license?
        My impression from people I knew and what I heard from lots of people who probably knew more about the scene than I do was that “edgy Mary Sues” happened to be kind of the de facto way the game was played by lots of players (and, to be doubly controversial, a lot of those were allegedly women), so by what I “knew”/thought I knew on the topic to the day, it might as well have followed its player base into their favorite corner. It seems to be basically the clichée of the V:TM gamer in the first place.
        It would be against the reasons for the masquerade, but it appeared to me the masquerade was something the player base barely wanted to bother with.
        The first question coming to mind: Were the current writers part of the generation of players who (would have) established this way of playing or are they just outsiders tasked to write for something they didn’t care about?

        1. Geebs says:

          (Disclaimer: I know very little about the PnP VtM and always thought the original Bloodlines was embarrassingly edgy but a bit toothless)

          Eating rats is basically to vampire stories what mobile phones were to horror. As soon as you add that option in, the inherent tension of the setting just plain collapses. Now it’s just:

          Vampire game: you must drink the character’s blood to slake your unholy thirst! Ah ah ah!
          Me: don’t wanna
          Vampire game: that’s fine! Ah ah ah!
          Me: cool

          I can almost taste the eeeeeevil.

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          So I really liked the first game and I’ve only heard confirmed information about the sequel a few days ago, they do seem to have at least one of the writers (B.Mitsoda) from the first game on board but I’m not going to even try figuring out what percentage of the original writing he was responsible for. It is also not entirely clear to me what Mad Tinkerer’s stance on the first game is (I honestly don’t remember it being very much into exploring the inner struggle of our character).

          Anyway, yeah, VtM was a popular one in my gaming circles eventually leading to a “Who are we playing as?” “We are playing as the Kindred” “And what can we do?” “We can suffer” meme. I think there is all kinds of stories and all kinds of ways to play a setting, even if certain themes are more implied than others and the mechanics pushes certain approaches or conflicts more than others. It was always a point of contention whether or not VtM was doing a good or bad job of mechanically illustrating the inner struggle of a vampire. In my opinion it is, at the end of the day, all up to the players and the GM and how they decide to sort out their world, though I can see MadTinkerer’s argument that when translating a setting to another medium we should generally try to maintain the themes the setting is intended to carry.

          Thaaaat said if I understand correctly what things MT is very specifically not talking about then I’m just going to say I disagree and leave it at that, I doubt exploring this avenue would lead to anything productive and it would indeed be very hard to do without at least coming close to breaking the rules we uphold around here.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            So I’ve been thinking about it and assuming makes an ass of me, cause I realised TM could be talking about one of the two very opposing things, one that I heard about Bloodlines 2 specifically, another that I heard about related media… I assumed it was one of those since I completely did not make a connection with the other…

            You know what, better just drop this line of discourse. I apologise for the confusion and assumptions.

      3. krellen says:

        Are you aware that Paradox has recently sacked everyone involved in the creation of the new edition and shut down White Wolf entirely?

        1. MadTinkerer says:

          Not happy about that either. But that was something like the third iteration of White Wolf as a company. 1st and IMHO best iteration was Old World of Darkness, Trinity Universe, etc. 2nd iteration was New World of Darkness (meh.), Exalted (yeah!), and a bunch of years when they were still putting out a lot of books. 3rd iteration was “Oh gee, there are still enough Old World of Darkness fans to support new versions of the three main corebooks. We’re having trouble with some of our book lines, and the MMO still isn’t ready, so let’s make some new material for the classic lines.” and then the total output of new books just slowed down until I stopped paying attention.

          Each of these iterations wasn’t just about the product lines but turnover with the writers involved. There’s probably bigger fans that could give more nuanced explanations, but that’s the story from my perspective.

  2. Scampi says:

    Isn’t Outcast Second Contact the accelerated version? 1.1 is an improved version of the original, whereas Second Contact is claimed to be a complete remake. I don’t know how much work went into SC, but I had the original game in the past, just never got to play it before it got lost when I moved out of my old apartment.

    1. Scampi says:

      To add on: A huge plus for the German version of Outcast was the voice actor of Cutter Slade, Manfred Lehmann, who voiced Bruce Willis, Gerard Depardieu, Dolph Lundgren and Kurt Russell and a few times Bill Murray. His voice is absolutely awesome and he has been one of the most recognizable voices of German localizations in decades.
      Yes, this man’s voice sound so badass that he became John McClane, Snake Plissken AND to top it off, Duke Nukem…well, sadly in Duke Nukem Forever, but I guess it still counts.

    2. Lars says:

      Second Contact is a complete Polygon-Remake. No more Voxels. It looks good (static), it has the same sound/music/voices as its ancestor. Which mean no dolby digital or surround-sound, but still good music. The animations of the later video sequences seam to have remained the same. (Looks like Lego nowadays)
      They remodeled the Talans. Now Ulukei and the Talans have the same size, which doesn’t fit some in-game jokes. On release the camera had problems with rooms and ceilings and a weird zoom in firefights (probably fixed by now).

      I still liked the remake a lot, like I liked the original.

  3. Joe says:

    The godot engine, huh? Good, I’ve been waiting for that one.

    As for Epic, I don’t want another middleman program. If the Chinese government want my credit card details so badly, they’ll have to do it the old fashioned way, by hacking. Also, I was let down by Metro Exodus and deeply deeply disappointed by The Outer Worlds. Will I buy those games next year? I’m currently not planning on it. Once something ends up on my shit list, it tends to stay there.

    I want to look forward to Bloodlines 2, but I’ve been burned twice already. The Outer Worlds was particularly bad, because I heard that it wasn’t the devs decision, that they didn’t even know until right before it was announced.

    On the subject of old and forgotten games, Dungeon Siege. Yes, it was a Diablo clone that almost played itself. But I enjoyed it. The game where I discovered loot farming and open worlds.

    1. Chris says:

      Dungeon siege feels like a game that doesn’t have a place anymore. I remember playing it to death back when it came out, but completely disliking it when I gave it another try recently. The melee and ranged combat is braindead, just whack and drink potions. Magic at least has some variety but it is still rather simple. D2 did so much to modernise combat. Imagine having a melee ability that is something else than “hit him on the head” like whirlwind. Frankly I don’t know if Dungeon siege has anything left for someone who has played newer games. It is kind of weird to get that experience from a game you used to love.

      1. Joe says:

        I know what you mean. Last time I played the Steam version, a couple of years ago, it had aged pretty badly. DS2 is in many ways better, but never felt the same.

        Which D2 do you mean? Diablo 2? While I like ARPGs and played both 1 & 3, I never played that one.

        1. Chris says:

          diablo 2. It really brought ARPGs to another level, including making the spinoff games more about looting than an RPG that just has real time combat. The combination of a full skilltree for everyone including for melee characters (so they have soemthing else to do than rightclick). Also the gearing not only increased stats, they also conferred extra spells (like teleport for everyone or transforming into a bear with barbarian). D2 still is very good even today (except for the hotkeys for spells, that is really lacking) but dungeon siege just feels like it misses half its mechanics.

    2. Kathryn says:

      >>The godot engine, huh? Good, I’ve been waiting for that one.

      ISWYDT. And also, you beat me to it!

  4. Tizzy says:

    I have to assume that, even if there were notes mapping out the whole trilogy from ME1, those would have been very hard to use for a new writing team. Just like code, it’s easier to use what you built yourself rather than what someone else did, especially if they built it for themselves rather than intending to pass the baton.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Even with code, you need to write notes sufficient for somebody not intimately familiar to pick it up later. It’s a common adage, that a programmer will look at a chunk of code, say “Who wrote this? They didn’t leave enough notes for me to know what their plan was for this.” then immediately look at the history and realize, “Shit, it was me six months ago.”

  5. John says:

    I’ve never used Godot myself, but I’ve heard good things about it. For those who are interested in Godot, I’d recommend the Godot tutorials at GameFromScratch. I haven’t watched these particular videos, but his libGDX tutorial series was very helpful to me.

    I occasionally dabble in game-making. I’ve given up on game engines for the moment in favor of coding my own (extremely simple) game from semi-scratch in Java. (I’m using the Swing and Java2D APIs, so I can’t claim that I’m doing things completely from scratch. On the other hand, Swing and Java2D are technically part of Java, so . . . ) It’s been educational, not least because I’ve had to learn about things like concurrency and buffering strategies that game engines normally handle for you. It’s also helped me understand why libGDX (a Java-based game framework) applications are structured the way they are. I may never produce a finished game, but at least I’m having fun and learning things.

    1. Groboclown says:

      I’ve used Godot to put together some simple games, and I did some initial work to put together the beginnings of more complex stuff. I’ve even dabbled around inside the engine code (for skeleton animation – it didn’t go well). I spent most of my time in the 2.x version of the engine, so I can’t comment on the latest one.

      It’s a really interesting project. It’s goal is to be a mostly interface-driven development model with scripted hooks using the built-in scripting language (which is very much like Python). The main UI is written in the scripting language for Godot, so all the 2d graphical elements in the UI can be used in your game, and can be nicely themed for custom looks. Like you said in the podcast, it’s an open source project under the MIT license, so you can recompile the engine and strip out all the parts you don’t need, or add in new stuff.

      Adding in procedurally-generated content is possible, but it requires deeper knowledge of the scene tree.

  6. Tizzy says:

    Paul mentioned that it seems that Epic wants to be just a storefront and not a community platform. When you think about how Steam gets dragged into seemingly endless controversies over its inability to moderate its store (let alone its community pages), it makes sense that a new storefront would want to spare themselves the headache and expense. This might be quite deliberate on their part.

    1. Preciousgollum says:

      Many people seem to share the theory that Epic are hoping to gain a younger audience into their store via Fortnite…

      … combine this with another theory that the younger audience DON’T KNOW what things were like in PC gaming between 10-15 years ago (when it was terrible DRM or nothing and ‘PC gaming was dead’) and you have a competitor that is competing under false assumptions (that just so happen to be what younger people might buy into).

      So, really it’s Valve that essentially come along and ‘solve’ (well, mediate really) the problems and build up the PC market, and then Epic (a company known for practically giving up on PC games after Unreal Tournament 3 and focusing on Gears) comes along and says “We’ll take it from here” after pulling their head up from under their desk and realising that PC gaming is now in its glory days.

      It is also quite possible that one of the only reasons why young people have a PC to play Fortnite (yes, I know it is on consoles also) is because of the success of Steam in revitalising the PC platform. Otherwise, you’d have your game device for gaming, your tablet or phone for the Internet and whatever other dedicated device.

      This isn’t just about competition over ‘Storefronts, prices and DRM’. This is about how a lot of companies wanted to get rid of PC gaming, and how, with Epic being mostly a Console game publisher for many years now, it is difficult to know whether or not they are going to be more like Microsoft and Games For Windows. I.e try to stamp out the freedom of PC gaming via the backdoor.

      P.S it is also quite amusing that not many articles ever mention the rebranded Windows Store… and the answer is because it is too garbage and uninteresting to talk about. (Full of shovelware, and you can’t even trust that a Free game like KIller Instinct would work… let alone a premium product. GFWL and Microsoft Store are so bad that the Halo Collection is coming out on STEAM!)

      1. Scampi says:

        It’s always interesting to me when I get to read a version of reality that’s so clearly divorced from my own perspective and have to wonder whether one of both was born under serious delusions or if my and their perspective are both valid views under different assumptions.
        I really respect your view here, but my version of the same events would definitely be a very different read.

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          What particularly do you disagree with or see as different?

          To attempt to clarify, a lot of PC games had awful DRM or were non-existent around the time that Bioshock came to PC, due to the worries about online Piracy. To the point where a lot of companies started to do away with the PC port entirely.

          There was the potential for a massive division where it could have been worse for to buy a game than to pirate it, and so this could have lead to a major decline in the PC as a platform.

          So, Valve came along with Steam and earned enough goodwill from the community to give their form of DRM a try because it was convenient and more importantly became cheaper over time. PC gaming became less of a hassle and started to turn around – other publishers took note and started using Steam DRM and their goodwill to sell additional games because it was better than using their own DRM.
          So, what I’m trying to get at is the idea that everyone wants to ‘1UP’ the Steam platform by effectively copying it or modifying it in some form or another, and while they might be able to point at flaws from a marketing jargon perspective, do these companies really understand the problem that Steam ‘solved’? (I mean, steam didn’t solve DRM but it made most of us not care anymore).

          In other words, YOU CANNOT HAVE PREMIUM GAMES AND TRY TO KEEP THEM EXPENSIVE WHILE ALSO LOCKING THEM BEHIND A DRM PLATFORM AND THINK IT WILL WORK… (well, you can, but it would take a lot of things happening to achieve this)

          Even Microsoft realise that their closed platform was losing customers and so they made the prices cheaper in sales – this was something they probably didn’t want to do and was probably encouraged by how successful Steam has been with its sales. Remember, Microsoft wanted to basically copy all the DRM of ‘Digital Platforms’ without the benefits of ownership, before they had even proven themselves as a viable digital platform. Microsoft backed off in the end because people said no to it. Before then, Microsoft wanted to give you all the hassle of a digital store front without much of the convenience.

        2. Echo Tango says:

          So…what are your views? If you actually respect Preciousgollum for their different viewpoint, you should share your own. Otherwise, what you’ve read sounds sort of like a passive-aggressive insult.

          1. Scampi says:

            Well, I’m one of the people who never came to terms with Steam, still avoids it to the day and wouldn’t want to touch it the least bit because of personal preferences.
            I didn’t intend for it to come off as insulting, and specifically didn’t want to mention this as I believe it must be rather annoying to other people everytime I start my Steam rants, which I have already done several times in the past.
            I didn’t mean to hide behind an insult, I wanted to spare everyone else having to read my apparently rare and strange outsider viewpoint.
            In my version of events, Steam wouldn’t be a kind of hero of PC gaming, as I preferred several quasi-working and in some cases imho less intrusive DRM measures I experienced over the now universal client based DRM (don’t ask me which, though, I just remember there were some which I would have preferred back in the day). I think both points may have a basis in reality, just accounting for different perspectives and preferences, where my personal preference is “not having a company creating a backdoor inside my machine to spy on me”. Steam (and probably others as well) did it in the past and I’m not one to trust them after this kind of event, as my impression is not that they really stopped, but everyone else just stopped caring about it.

            Just one question: How does respect for someone else’s viewpoint necessitate presenting one’s own point? I don’t get it, as I think it’s basically a rephrasing of “I respectfully disagree”.
            I do agree with Preciousgollum’s general account of events, just not his perspective on things.

            Though I might as well come from the “other other” perspective, where I enjoy seeing Epic putting pressure and competing with Steam, even though the means are kind of scummy, since I don’t get how anyone could begin to compete with Steam without any kind of pressure on the customers, in the form of exclusives and such. As long as the main part of games were available elsewhere as well, why would anyone consider getting their stuff at the Epic store in the first place?

            1. Narkis says:

              Well, you didn’t say “I respectfully disagree”. You said “It’s always interesting to me when I get to read a version of reality that’s so clearly divorced from my own perspective and have to wonder whether one of both was born under serious delusions”. Stating people are divorced from reality and possibly delusional isn’t very respectful.

              1. Scampi says:

                I’m sorry if it came across that way. I really only meant to say his perspective was extremely different from my perspective and by admitting that “one of us both” might be born under serious delusions” I meant to explicitly include the possibility that it might as well be my own perspective that is flawed. Nevertheless, I think both have their justification and are perfectly fine, as they only derive from different preferences.

                1. Preciousgollum says:

                  Ah OK.

                  I see what you mean.

                  Look, my ‘take’ on these ideas is that Steam didn’t so much solve DRM as it put a massive blanket over the abyss of DRM and let us cradle in its warmth – but (in Dark Souls fashion) all things come to an end at some point… but I wouldn’t want it to end under false pretenses. Epic’s prototype storefront and huge media coverage with all the talks of exclusives basically invites the idea that ‘DRM’ will never be re-looked at and are now locked into a system that, through competition, will never truly be convenient, but simply the least-worst option (which is not the same as a good option). Essentially, in their race to get to the end first and in not understanding the problem, it might spell disaster and re-open that abyss – We’re talking like a classic Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones story. The bad guys mistake is usually the eagerness to get there first… but we don’t know where ‘there’ is yet.

                  It’s a bit like the end of The Dark Knight… not everybody will agree with the decisions made in hindsight (and the third, less interesting film does as much as it can to tear down The Dark Knight’s ‘perfect’ ending and then tries to make its own ending even more… something) but for those that were there it was cool at the time.

                  Regarding Steam: It was many publishers decisions to use Steam as a form of distribution when it was SUPER convenient for them (Ubisoft, EA etc) but now the trend is in all these publishers having their own store front because they want to cut out the middle man. Publishers also have a responsibility in making Steam what it is today.

                  Epic seems to be positioning itself as ‘middle-management’ that has this idea of cutting out the middle man with this new revenue proposal, but they’re also willing to look totally Gordon Gecko in achieving this aim (with the ‘exclusives’ etc). Sometimes we need the middle man.

                  I am seriously concerned that ‘Console wars’ mentality will be encouraged with DRM and digital storefront platforms… which is just dumb really but makes for some fantastic brand recognition. So, in terms of ‘competition’ it is actually the customer that is encouraged to compete AGAINST EACHOTHER for that ‘exclusive’ Metro or Division 2 or whatever (ultimately B product) they can wrangle and create cult interest in. ‘Console Wars’ culture just creates unhappy gamers. It is difficult to be happy when being reminded about how many other people are somehow unhappy, or in some cases this ‘unhappiness’ is blown to new proportions via media because it fuels click bait.

                  1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                    So I have a massive library of games on Steam and so naturally I have a strong interest in not seeing the platform fail. However, I do not feel some kind of partisan loyalty towards the platform. While Epic’s store is right now a pile of feces in terms of functionality Valve have become so assured of their position that they really haven’t been doing much to maintain it and when they do introduce a change it is very often directionless and without consideration for consequences. Literally anyone could have told Valve that something like “Rape Day” would happen eventually and this is reaching a point where some legislators are taking notice, whether for the right or wrong reasons is another matter entirely but we know how reactive legislature usually ends up hurting everyone involved.

                    I can’t speak much in terms of Steam’s cut because I’m not a dev and I also don’t have an ability to look behind the scenes and figure out stuff like Steam’s maintenance costs but from the point of view of a customer I’ve been loosing my appreciation of Steam recently: it’s been an increasing chore to filter through the lists of games if I don’t want to miss cool indie titles and despite promises tracking news from devs that I am particularly interested in has not become that much easier, I’m not even going to try to describe Valve’s schizophrenic approach to adult games, everybody knows moderation is borderline non-existent, it was only within the last couple weeks that Valve admitted that review bombing is a problem and as a solution they will be excluding “off topic” reviews, they define offtopicness as “among other things” relating to “EULA changes” and “DRM systems” (does the “game doesn’t work because DRM systems are faulty and this has been the case for the last three months” count as off topic? Because I had this happen to a Ubisoft game I bought on Steam and I think this is something that may “affect customer satisfaction”). Oh, and they will be excluding clusters of reviews rather than individual ones, somewhat understandable considering the scale but this means that if the bombing happens close to release you’re also getting rid of all the legitimate early reviews.

                    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Steam is the devil, they are facing a lot of the problems that any platform of this size would, the thing is they’ve been so complacent that the issues have been piling up, they’ve been loosing goodwill and honestly they’ve been setting themselves up for this. Steam is convenient (to an extent, see above), Steam offers nice sales, Steam is large and has been around for a while so a lot of people have huge collections and are invested in the platform, but don’t for one minute believe that Steam has saved PC games out of the goodness of their heart and is now backstabbed by the evil, evil competitors. Steam is not our friend and they’ve done the barest minimum (if that) to make themselves a better platform or to affect video game industry for the better and now they’re paying the price.

              2. Echo Tango says:

                ^ this

      2. baud says:

        Regarding Windows Store, there’s another game that’s gotten pulled of Steam by Epic, the Outer World by Obsidian; but since it’s still going to be released without any delay on the Windows Store, I read a few poster saying they’d get the game there instead of using Epic.

        I think one issue with Epic buying exclusives left and right is the fact that it don’t look ‘fair’: Epic won’t compete with the other stores on features/prices, but only on locking games in their ecosystem (a bit like the consoles war). Also regarding Phoenix Point, another issue is that the backers payed (backed?) for a Steam or GOG key, which they’ll still get, but a year after the release. It also give the PP devs don’t have faith in their game, preferring to grab the fat pile of Fornite money rather than putting the game in the maximum of stores.

        1. Scampi says:

          But isn’t that the only way they may actually compete? If they had the same catalogue as Steam, how would anyone know their prices were better if everyone already had their games from Steam and decided to stay with it for convenience? I’m not sure about that, but I think every new platform derived its justification to a large degree from the idea of exclusive “must have” titles, where you didn’t get an important milestone game unless you got it for that platform.
          I can’t remember how often I have heard or read “I might get Title X from platform y, but I can get it on Steam easily, where I have all my games and friends and don’t need to install yet another client.” I think I remember such tirades from Shamus himself, when Origin became compulsory for EA games, as well as lots of other people.
          I think competing for and securing exclusives people will want to play is probably the only way for a new platform to establish itself, and over time, people will get used to using it.
          I don’t see how they could compete over features or prices if their catalogue is so much smaller and has no great argument why people should buy there. Steam would still be that much more convenient to people because it’s already established.
          I for one can’t really blame Epic for their strategy here. I think I’d do the same if I wanted to get a share of the gaming market and needed an entry point.
          Phoenix Point on the other hand look really bad imho, as they screw people who already financed them only to get more money from Epic.

          1. Preciousgollum says:

            But it can be taken to extremes sometimes and come up with what is essentially the ideology of Revolver Ocelot from Metal Gear Solid 4.

            Something along the lines of… “In this new struggle, men will be free to CHOOSE their DRM platform and have their OWN platform if they want…”

            And he then (actually) says “It’ll be The Wild West all over again”. I remember the Digital Storefront Wild West and it wasn’t very good.

            We can go so far and say “Why are only some state entities allowed Nuclear Weapons? Why doesn’t every country have its own version of the United Nations?”

            And the answer is because it is convenient not to.

            Games collections are NOT the same as they used to be when stuff was on CDs and other physical media. What it means to ‘have’ a game is now completely different.

            I CAN remember where I live and where I might have stored my collection of video games IN my house… but how on earth is somebody supposed to remember all of the different digital account details for each publisher? That would mean that each consumer has to be like an industry expert or something… or ‘Pro-sumer’…

            Like, we’re talking about a situation where if you went into a shop and said “I want some apples” and then somebody said “Yeah, which brand?”
            “I can only take you there if I know which brand you want… also
            do you have an account with Del Monte?”

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              How are you supposed to remember the log in details? They have apps for this. Or write the information in a notebook that you then store securely. It leaves me curious how you live life at all honestly. You need a log in these days to pay rent, buy movie tickets, order food online, order a ride, get your email, log in to work computer, etc. The fact that creating a system to manage this makes you think it’s impossible is… unimpressive. To say the least.

          2. galacticplumber says:

            Simple. Same features as steam, same general price structure, less shovelware due to actually curating things. Done.

            1. Scampi says:

              I think that would require them having established the shop way earlier, having struck deals with lots and lots of developers, having a large catalogue to choose from, having stable running sales (or single enormous sales to back them financially) and an already grown customer base.
              There may be a flaw in my thinking, but I don’t see how they could start their storefront from scratch and suddenly compete with an established rival while basically copying everything the rival does, thus making their business rather superfluous.
              There would be nothing setting them apart that would get people to chose them over Steam.
              I know I myself wouldn’t ever have considered becoming a Steam customer (sometimes I do) if I didn’t know they are the sole gate keeper to some really impressive games in the pc market.
              Now, Epic (or companies striking deals with them?) tries to get people to use their store the same way: Having something that’s hopefully must have and trying to get people to join them.
              And the only reason I think people are salty about it is the exact reason why Epic needs to pull these kinds of stunts in the first place: Nobody would buy them at the Epic store if they were available on Steam as well.

              1. Preciousgollum says:

                People seem to be claiming that more competition is needed in the industry, however have neglected the prospect that Epic, in owning Unreal Engine 4 AND having the storefront to sell games, AND setting themselves up as a Steam competitor, could in fact end up forcing a greater monopoly instead.
                Both Street Fighter V and Tekken 7 use Unreal Engine 4…

                Like, since when did everybody start loving the Unreal Engine? Wasn’t the joke that it was the engine (from about UE3 onwards) that often encouraged the graphics card rat race in pursuit of visuals over gameplay?

                I get that UE4 was one of the few licensed ‘off the shelf’ engines avaliable to meet the expectations of what is now this current console generation (Xbox One/PS4).

                1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                  Why did you treat “having a storefront” and “being a Steam competitor” as two different points? That’s the same thing. Also, Steam also has an engine that people can use (Source). So how is THAT different? If people feel like Epic is a bad business partner, they can use a different engine. So how is that a monopoly exactly?

              2. galacticplumber says:

                The flaw in your thinking is that some absurdly large percentage of the steam store is shovelware crap now because they stopped curating things.

                Therefore compete with Steam by doing all the good things they do, without also doing the shit. That’s why so many indies are flocking to the switch. It’s a curated store that won’t drown new releases in asset flip garbage. It’s literally hard to find good indies on steam these days unless you’ve hooked into youtube channels interested in non-AAA new releases.

                1. Syal says:

                  It’s literally hard to find good indies on steam these days unless you’ve hooked into youtube channels interested in non-AAA new releases.

                  On that tangent, Baba Is You is a really clever puzzle game and everyone should play it if they like feeling stupid.

        2. Chad Miller says:

          Re: the Phoenix Point thing, something similar happened with the latest Metro game (Steam preorders had already started at the time they announced Epic exclusivity, and early boxed copies literally had tape covering Steam logos)

          It’s hard to call this “competitive” in any meaningful sense. When the store was first announced, it sounded like Epic would naturally attract some exclusives by taking a smaller cut (which would also entice some consumers in the know to buy through Epic to indirectly support the game developers). Instead we see Epic bribing developers *after* they already gained traction on other platforms, which doesn’t really benefit consumers at all.

      3. Echo Tango says:

        The way to stop large companies ruining PC gaming “through the back door” as you put it, would be to support competing companies, whose policies you feel are less harmful. GOG isn’t perfect, but I always try to purchase through them first, since they have a strong stance against DRM, and from what I can see, are very pro-customer. The itch.io website is similar, but for Indies, and have a very good policy of letting the game-creators set the cut that they take from sales.

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          Agreed on GOG, however do you remember their rebranding stunt?

          When they declared that they were shutting down and that people should download and store their games… oh wait only Joking… they shut down to rebrand.

          To be honest, that might have been the point where a lot of people went over to Steam because GOG pulled that stunt and blew away any goodwill… ESPECIALLY at a point where many of their games were still niche old ones AND they didn’t have many discount sales.

          I think it has probably taken GOG quite a long time to rebuild trust after that.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            I remember the rebranding stunt, but didn’t care enough to stop trusting them; On the other hand, I nearly deleted my account, because back then I wasn’t using a password manager, and it would be one fewer line to keep around in my spreadsheet of logins. They got lucky, than I waited a week (or whatever) for the correct information to be revealed, before just moving on to other companies. Hopefully they learned their lesson – losing customers by trust or thinking you’ve gone out of business is not good for keeping a steady cash flow. :)

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      Given that the alternative is that they are super slow about implementing basic and essential functionality, yeah, I hope it’s deliberate.

  7. Gordon says:

    People keep describing Satisfactory as Factorio meets No Mans Sky, which never felt quite right. While listening to this it occurred to me that a much much better description is Factorio meets Subnautica. Aside from the water thing it seems to have much much more in common with Subnautica than No Mans Sky.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yes! Both Satisfactory and Subnautica have:
      Slick graphics for the machinery and equipment
      A large hand-made map, with no procgen
      An in-engine opening featuring re-entry
      Construction/disassembly for buildings, but no terrain manipulation
      A portmanteau title starting with an ‘S’

      The main difference is Satisfactory is mostly on land, and features inexhaustible harvesting and conveyor belts.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        No random maps in Satisfactory? :(

        1. MadTinkerer says:

          No random maps, but several hand made ones.

          But then Goat Simulator didn’t have random maps either. (It’s by the same guys.)

          1. Echo Tango says:

            Several hand-made maps sounds good enough to me. Big enough that you don’t immediately accidentally memorize the best locations of everything, from replaying the game. :)

            1. Paul Spooner says:

              I think it’s just the one map.

              Just one beautifully crafted, hand-made, 100% organic, vegan, GMO-free planet. Actually, it’s not even a whole planet. It’s just a small bit. But it’s still pretty big, 30km2. That means about 5.4×5.4km.

              Though, presumably when “mod support” goes in we can get map modding.

              1. Echo Tango says:

                Is the start location randomized or anything? :S

                1. Gordon says:

                  You can choose from one of several start locations on the map. Also general consensus among the players seems to be that the map is not small. In top down area it’s about 2.5x the size of Subnautica, but Subnautica has more vertical layering, so they are probably similar in play area.

      2. Philadelphus says:

        Satisfactory I get (factory + satisfactory), but how is Subnautica a portmanteau? It seems more like a fancy Latin way of saying ‘Undersea.’

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Unless you read “sub” as a contraction of “submarine”? Maybe the games are more different than I had though.

          1. evilmrhenry says:

            I figured it was based off of “subnautical”. Google says that’s not a word, but its easy to build from sub (under) + nautical (ships/sailing). I.E., related to underwater vehicles. Take the ‘l’ at the end off, and you have a game name.

  8. Gordon says:

    On the weird old games list. There is this old space colonization game, I can’t find the name right now, I will track it down later. But it’s a mix of RPG and lightweight city builder (a similar sort of highbrid as that weird Dune game). You have a colony ship with hand picked bridge crew and you are in a solar system that has full orbital dynamics and you can build little settlements on the planets or on orbiting platforms, and ship material around (subject to orbital periods) with light craft, in addition you can also move the colony ship around. And then over this is an RPGish storyline.

    1. Gordon says:

      Alien Legacy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_Legacy that was not easy to find.

      1. Gordon says:

        And now I’ve spent another hour looking for spiritual successors… with no luck.

      2. Echo Tango says:

        This game sounds amazing! :O

  9. shoeboxjeddy says:

    I think it’s good that people are putting pressure on the Epic Store to improve. That’s the only way that it will. However, I also think it’s bad that people are OUTRAGED whenever a company decides to use that storefront. Steam is a cesspit, it’s to the point where selling your game in a somewhat neutered fashion on the underpowered Switch will give you much better success than a high quality PC version on Steam. That’s pathetic and entirely Valve’s fault. Valve’s “everybody do what you want” development approach sounded pretty cool years ago, but it turned out that meant “swim in money and avoid doing hard, unfun work or making a firm decision about things (anything really).” The fact that Valve has to have serious, dragged out discussions about whether to serve up software like “Rape Day” on their platform really says a lot about how completely ineffective they are as a company. The guy who MADE that game didn’t think it belonged on Steam, he was essentially trolling them! And it completely worked!

    1. Matthew Downie says:

      If games do better on Switch, that’s probably because there’s less competition.

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        And because ‘beloved’ Reggie introduced the idea of ‘conditions’ for brick and mortar storefronts in selling their games… and presumably most of these were about promoting Nintendo.

        You get articles written constantly about how ‘Switch is better for everthing’ etc and I think you can read between the lines and realise it is because the games cost more and are on more proprietary conditions that favour both the company publishing them and the media advertising on behalf of the company.

        At the very least, they are written to self-justify why some people bought Dark Souls (again); an old game for a high price. But what happens when your Switch no longer works? What will you do with the cartridges?

        Look, the Switch is a great idea for Nintendo because it means that, due to a culture of games not just being for kids anymore, adults can now advertise and brand recognise their Switches to each other on the train while heading to work.

        1. shoeboxjeddy says:

          “At the very least, they are written to self-justify why some people bought Dark Souls (again); an old game for a high price. But what happens when your Switch no longer works? What will you do with the cartridges?”

          Your anti-Dark Souls comment discounts for the fact that unlike every other port, this one was portable. So that’s a pretty unique selling point for once, unlike say, Skyrim being ported from Ps3 to Ps4. I’m not saying that magically makes it the best game ever, just that there’s a reason people would be excited. And what’s the point of the “what happens when your Switch doesn’t work” comment? That’s just asinine. “You bought a DVD? But what about when all your DVD players don’t work??”

          1. Shamus says:

            Actually, the concern over platform death makes a lot of sense and isn’t really comparable to DVD. Media formats last for decades and individual discs are pretty cheap. Consoles only live for a few years. Individual games are relatively expensive. You’re paying more for a format that will die a lot sooner.

            Example: The Gamecube was discontinued in 2007. The last Laserdisc player was manufactured in 2009. Laserdiscs outlived the GC.

            Nintendo in particular is bad about this. I predict that ten years from now you’ll still be able to get Skyrim running on PCs of the day, but you won’t be able to get hardware to run that Switch cart without paying collectors prices on the second hand market.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              But that goes for every purchase of a console game ever. And while Nintendo’s online services can be quite bad, their backwards compatibility is often better than the competition’s (not always, but often). So for your Gamecube example, you could play those games in the Wii. So laserdisc outlasted the Gamecube format, but not the ability to easily play those games.

              1. Preciousgollum says:

                Resident Evil 1 ReMake HD coming out on PC and ending up cheap enough means that I don’t have to bother worrying about whether or not I can get one of my favourite games of all time to run on an emulator or the Gamecube (omg old composite), or a Wii which I have no interest in. My younger sister ejected the Gamecube disc of that £30 game at the time out of the console and dragged it all over the wooden floor when she was a toddler. Now, on PC – over 10 years later, she has watched me play the game and we don’t have to worry if that old disc works or not…

                Same goes for RE4 etc which was a Gamecube exclusive. I had it on PS2 (which won’t turn on because I damaged the ribbon cable for power when trying to repair it – the contacts are made of foil!) and an old Ubisoft PC port (which I played, and now the new PC port which I also own and now does 60fps for the first time ever and is great as a result because 30fps sucks and the older I get the more I notice the difference. PS3 backwards compatible with PS1 also is garbage and looks terrible, whereas PC to PS1 emulators do a fantastic job of properly upscaling those old 3D games to modern expectations.

                So, it proves that ‘Nintendo’ games can exist outside of Nintendo themselves or their proprietary devices.

                Zombi is available on PC (through Ubisoft), and that was a Wii U launch title/system seller.

                Cross platform should really be the norm by now. I know that people pay more for their games on a console because that is the deal when you buy a cheap console that doesn’t return much of a profit for the manufacturer – the licensing on the games is where the profits come from.

    2. Preciousgollum says:

      What’s the difference between ‘Rape Day’, ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and ‘Manhunt’?

      They all sound like and are games based around crimes, and so shouldn’t they all be taken off digital storefronts because of their inappropriate subject material and trolling of society?

      1. tmtvl says:

        Young people shouldn’t read Water Margin. Old people shouldn’t read Three Kingdoms.

      2. shoeboxjeddy says:

        You actually know the difference and are engaging in a bad faith argument by trying this tack. There’s an established market for horror and crime fiction. There is not and has never been a popular mainstream genre of rape based fiction. Of course there are stories about it, but they are generally for a limited audience and often have trouble finding any kind of mainstream success. So, as the creator of the game himself agreed (!), perhaps if this was product was to be made, it shouldn’t be sold through the most mainstream channel, as that doesn’t really fit the product.

        1. Shamus says:

          “You actually know the difference and are engaging in a bad faith argument by trying this tack.”

          That’s an unreasonable way to engage with someone. You don’t need to tell Preciousgollum what’s going on in their head to make your argument. I could just as easily accuse you of lying about your motives for participating in this debate. It wouldn’t make me right. It can’t be proved either way and it isn’t germane.

          1. Preciousgollum says:

            I was thinking of writing a whole article examining the difference between these games…

            … but then I thought I’d see if somebody could sum it up in short sentence.

            P.S The difference between GTA and ‘other games’ is that GTA became successful, and positioned itself as ‘gatekeeper’ of mature content in the mainstream.

            I could also sit here and write about how I don’t want those ewwy porn games on Steam (and TBH I don’t want them on Steam) … and then somebody would say “Yea, but what about Grand Theft Auto or The Witcher, or Heavy Rain or LGBT games etc etc…” and we’re right back at censorship debates.

            A lot of movies and TV are also disgusting and involve real-life actors, but why are movie not subject to as much scrutiny? – Why is ‘Game of Thrones’ ok?

            Interactivity etc etc… older medium… and I’m going to stop here before it gets boring.

            Now, the only reason that most people know of this video game called ‘Rape Day’ is because of all the articles published to tell you how OUTRAGED you should be about it all. If most people were not told by the media, then the game would have been taken down very quickly anyway by Steam (because of the politics) without us having to discuss it… and net happiness would have gone up.

            You see, the media have had a trick for a while which goes like this:

            “This thing is disgusting… now look at it. Look at this thing. LOOK. LOOK HOW DISGUSTING IT IS! LOOK AT THE THING YOU WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE. LOOK AT IT! Get a glimpse at the indecency… and feel bad! Let it consume your thought processes. You only are seeing it because THEY put it there. THEM. (not us).”

            That just sounds like a form of advertising and it dominates the conversation.

      3. evilmrhenry says:

        GTA games are usually rated M for Mature. Manhunt is also rated M. (Mostly.) Rape Day, assuming the title is indicative of the gameplay, would be rated AO for Adults Only. (I haven’t looked at the game closely.) So, that’s one difference. (Note that GTA San Andreas got re-rated AO because of the “Hot Coffee” controversy. Manhunt 2 (PC only) got rated AO, which appears to be from the gruesome death animations. Both of these are difficult to acquire these days.)

        This is different from the question of whether or not the game should be available on Steam, of course. I was generally unhappy with the way rating a game AO was a de facto ban on games, but this is looking uncomfortably like the situation before the ESRB came into being, what with legislators looking at games and asking exactly why a game is able to be sold, while meaningfully staring at their law-writing pen.

        If they ever pick up their law-writing pen, that would be bad. Valve is not taking responsibility for the games they release on their platform, and their lack of responsibility could hurt the entire medium. (Imagine, for example, a law that required all commercial games to have an ESRB rating, and what that would do to the indie scene.)

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          Well, maybe those people who want to make laws about the sales of video games want to point out Steam, as a way to put people off, and make laws on video games. Big Publishers would be in a better position to comply than indie developers (whose edgy material may be pushed out in favour of safer options). Who benefits?

          Because… what it seems like at the moment, from what you are saying, is that INDIE games don’t need to be rated as much (or at all) provided that they don’t make it to physical shelves.

          … while also hoping that the digital storefronts continue to self-regulate without drawing too much attention.

          Which seems like quite a balancing act.

    3. Mephane says:

      I think it’s good that people are putting pressure on the Epic Store to improve.

      I am frankly past the point of caring whether they improve as a storefront, launcher, platform or whatever. They arrived on the scene as a potential competitor but then proceeded to compete not for customers, but for publishers. They essentially adopted the Facebook model to video gaming: you are not the customer, you are the product. The publishers are their real customers, have been right from the start. Everything Epic has done and said in this regard reeks of utter contempt for the gamers, and Tim Sweeney in particular has said enough to make it clear that unlike with EA, it’s not incompetence at play here, this is all a deliberate, calculated strategy, a console war 2.0 carried out on the backs of PC gamers.

      At this point I don’t see a realistic way for Epic to redeem themselves any time soon. They are the ones who have started burning the very bridges we used to walk all the time, so I’ll just stay on this side of the river and sit this out. Here’s hoping the store tanks and the exclusivity deals backfire, Epic runs out of money to throw around for bribes and the publishers that have entered these deals come to their senses soon enough.

      A small glimmer of hope is Metro Exodus’ sales figures; the fact that Epic did not boast absolute numbers (i.e. “N millions of copies” as everyone else would do in such a situation), but a vague and very much open to interpretation “2.5x as much as Metro Last Light in the first week” is a hint that their sales aren’t doing all that well and Epic is clutching at any straw in order to make this look like a success story.

  10. Redrock says:

    I kinda love the whole Epic Store debacle. I work in PR, and this is by far some of the worst PR blunders I’ve seen in a long while. Now, there’re times when PR fails to sweeten up a bad idea, or when people say something stupid during interviews. But the most delicious PR failures are ones where the project is actually mostly a good thing, but you present it so poorly that it becomes vilified by the same people who would have probably been cheering for it if you had just kept your mouth shut. I mean, jeez. Epic did everything, literary everything to alienate a vocal segment of the core PC gaming crowd. Every word out of Galyonkin’s or Sweeney’s mouth is utterly anti-consumer, even if the story itself really isn’t, and neither is the timed exclusivity of certain titles. It’s fascinating at this point. I mean, it’s one of the less offensive launchers out there. Sure, it’s barebones, but it’s also barely there. That they managed to get people to hate it that much is quite an achievement.

    1. John says:

      I must be reading the wrong gaming press. I don’t know what Galyonkin and Sweeney have said. I’m not even entirely sure who they are. But from what I have read, the thing that seems to infuriate people the most are the exclusives. It’s true that people complain about the launcher and the lack of user reviews, but it’s hard for me to see how any of that would really matter if it weren’t for the exclusives. Without exclusives, anyone who didn’t like the launcher or wanted to read user reviews could simply buy the games elsewhere. The attitude would be “Epic sucks” or “I don’t like Epic” rather than “Epic is evil and also anti-consumer”.

      1. Scampi says:

        That’s exactly why I, in a way, love Epic despite not being a customer of their store.
        People complain about the exact same thing I do, but without realizing it. It’s just that it’s inconvenient for them.
        What nobody wants to see is that there would be no reason to buy at the Epic store if they didn’t secure exclusives, so they basically complain that the store tries to establish itself at all.
        I just can’t see the difference between me raging uselessly at Steam and Steam users raging at Epic.
        I can see the point, though.
        How much cheaper would a game have to be to get someone to buy from Epic instead of Steam, I wonder.

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          The answer is MUUUCH cheaper…
          The proof is that they’re giving away games for free before they’ve even established themselves.

          Anybody remember Onlive? They had an initial $1 sale on what were brand new games at the time (Deus Ex Human Revolution etc) and it was so bad that I ended up buying/trading in for a copy of Deus Ex HR (using Steam) on a website called GreenmanGaming (that used to do trades on digital games before they went to using Keys). It must have been about $25 before trading and before Steam Sales.

          This was a time before I was really prepared to use Steam or DRM enabled storefronts, but Onlive’s service (and GreenmanGaming) pushed me over to it.

          Even though my PC didn’t run the game very well, it was still a better experience than using Onlive for $1.

          Onlive now gone. Games For Windows Live is now… sort of gone. While purchases still appear on the account, I don’t think I could get them to download any more after they retired the service.

          Heck, GFWL was so bad… that they eventually patched/ported Resident Evil 5 to use Steamworks instead.

          1. Droid says:

            Same with Dark Souls 1 PTDE, even though that’s kinda moot now that it was remastered.

    2. Chad Miller says:

      I think it’s pretty anti-consumer to make exclusivity deals *after* the game has already started selling on another platform. There was also that “check this checkbox to not subscribe to our newsletter” nonsense (although that one was patched fairly quickly)

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        If they turn around and make Halo: The Master Chief Collection an ‘Epic Exclusive’ after it being listed on Steam, I am going to be really p*ssed.

        And NOT because a timed exclusive changes my decision (like, I’m not going to buy it until it is affordable… obviously) but because, if it DOES happen, then I would see it as proof that Microsoft and Epic were just trolling Valve the whole time with the announcement… and that something really weird and unreliable would have just happened and that it would make all video game announcements untrustworthy from then on.

      2. Mephane says:

        I think it’s pretty anti-consumer to make exclusivity deals *after* the game has already started selling on another platform.

        I say it is very anti-consumer to make exclusivity deals, period.

        1. Redrock says:

          The way I see it, “anti-consumer” is a powerful phrase, and I think it should be reserved for practices that actively hurt the consumer. Using the Epic Store has a negligible effect on the quality of one’s gaming experience. Hell, I’d even describe it as less intrusive than Steam or Uplay, seeing as how once I put a thumbnail for Metro on my desktop, I didn’t have to see a lick of Epic’s interface after. Compared to that experience, launching a Ubi game through Steam is a goddamn nightmare of pop-ups and splash screens.

          1. baud says:

            From what I’ve understood, “anti-consumer” can be applied to Epic regarding the issue of the (current) lack of regional pricing, which impact several countries. Of course it’s something Epic can work on (and I think I saw it on their roadmap)

  11. Algeh says:

    Are you reasonably happy (or at least not actively furious) with A2Hosting? I am in the market for hosting anywhere else than my current host, so they look appealing at first glance (since they are not my current host).

    1. Shamus says:

      Very happy. I can’t speak for anyone else, but their entire setup was completely intuitive and turnkey.

  12. CT says:

    I would like to add a couple of points about Phoenix Point, as Shamus and Paul wondered about them and I followed the developments closely (being a backer).

    First, the developers stated that they were the ones to approach Epic (rather than the opposite), even though they were simply interested in putting the game on the Epic storefront (I understand that then Epic offered them the exclusive deal, but that is my inference). See this Reddit thread for reference (Julian Gallop is the head developer)

    Regarding the financial status of the project and company (Paul wonders whether the studio needed funds to complete the game), I have read nothing suggesting that the developers were in trouble. However, I admit that as a backer I was slightly worried, because development seemed somewhat slower than I expected. I had this impression for two reasons: first, the release date was delayed twice (first from December 2018 to June 2019, then from June to September 2019). The crowfunding started in April 2017, so a delay from December 2018 to September 2019 is not insignificant – money has to cover 30 months of development instead of 21.

    The second fact which worried me is that some of the updates provided in the latest months seemed more appropriate for the early development stages of a project, rather than for the final months. In particular, in December 2018 (which was the original release date) the developers published an update which consisted exclusively of concept art for one of the main human factions. Thus, maybe they were not in trouble, but still had to choose between a rushed release of the game and getting extra funding to allow for more development.

    As an aside, I would love to read a post-mortem of the development of Phoenix Point in the future. I just do not have a clear understanding of how the business plan evolved. Back in April 2017 the studio had 8 people, needed half a million USD to finish the project – and there was “no plan B” ( source ). One year later (April 2018): the game has raised 766,000 USD in crowfunding (so, more than the goal, but not on a different magnitude), is getting an additional 100,000 USD in pre-sales per month, and the team is now of 28(!) people. Still, the CEO is worried, because the game “will be judged against XCOM” (source ). In addition, the company spent 250,000 USD in marketing up to August 2018 ( source ).

    I remember reading the articles quoted above and thinking “this does not seem the same project I backed in 2017”. I cannot believe that, when they asked for half a million to finish the game, they were planning to more than triple the size of the team and spend a quarter of a million on marketing. The vision must have changed along the way…

  13. Paul Spooner says:

    If anyone would like to see my crazy ball-of-yarn base in Satisfactory, I did a tour video:

    EDIT: On re-watching I realized it could have been a lot worse. Perhaps I’ll give “worst base” a try, though the YouTube standard “huge and sprawling powered by burner generators” is going to be hard to beat.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      A really cool factory would have multiple levels of foundations, conveyors, and other buildings, all criss-crossing over each other like some kind of Escher painting. :P

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I’m up to two layers now, added when I automated supercomputers. Really looking forward to conveyor lifts.

  14. default_ex says:

    The software thing is the entire reason I learned to actually repair a Windows PC instead of just reformat and reinstall when problems occurred. These days the majority of the software I use is portable or can be made portable with some trickery. I have been toying with Linux partitions on my USB stick, the idea being the stick carries the OS and essential software while the HDD in the machine would be for storage and non-essential software like games. It’s dodgy as hell, doesn’t always load in the software from the host machine but it’s a fun diversion that just might yield a really nice setup in the future. Android already does something similar but the other way around with being able to put your apps on a SD card and let the phone/tablet load them in. Tried something similar with Windows but it’s so fragile when linking up folders dynamically that I just don’t see Windows as it is now ever working anywhere near as well as Linux for something like that.

    That’s honestly the path I wish OS developers would travel. Making the OS portable. Let’s face it the majority of the software we rely on would run on just about any hardware, it’s really only things like games that require specific types of hardware and even then no reason our configs and saves couldn’t be stored on a USB stick to carry with us.

    1. tmtvl says:

      What, like MaruOS? There’s been a lot of drive for “convergence” in the Linux world, trying to preempt Apple doing it, which they won’t because Apple lives on sucking their brainwashed flock dry by making them buy 5 different overpriced devices.

      1. Geebs says:

        Eh, if you’d prefer to have a modicum of online privacy while simultaneously wanting to use actual fonts, have functional wireless networking and hear sounds coming out of your device then the Apple Tax isn’t too bad.

        Although their latest foray into “services” might be the end of all that, I guess.

  15. MadTinkerer says:

    I’d love to use Godot Engine, but it doesn’t work with my current computer. I think that’s mostly the fault of my current computer, which runs everything up to Portal 2 just fine, which is all you need for most Indie games. It’s not going to run Satisfactory either, and I clearly need to play Satisfactory at some point. I’m hoping to be able to afford to upgrade my computer later this year, but I can’t quite yet.

    So I guess I just have to wait for Godot.

  16. Dreadjaws says:

    Here’s the problem with Phoenix Point’s deal with Epic. They didn’t ask the backers before making it. They made a decision after taking their money without consulting them. I mean, yeah, they might not be obligated to do that according to the terms, but it was definitely a sign of bad faith, particularly if the problem was that they were running out of money.

    It’s like the issue with System Shock 3. “Hey, we attracted you with this idea, but now that we’ve got your money we’re going to focus on this instead!” I don’t care if they weren’t actively trying to scam people, they’re still being scummy.

    Speaking of Epic, well… if they were as successful as they pretend to be they’d release some actual, non-misleading data. Sure, they have a large userbase, but most of them are Fortnite players (which yes, is a F2P game). And hell, you might have an Epic account for other reasons, like I do (I’ve had an Epic account for years, who knows for what reason), and the system counts you as a user.

    I mean, they were also claiming that after their deal with Ubisoft The Division 2 sold much more than the first game ever did on Steam, but they forgot to mention that it sold more on UPlay, as Ubisoft had confirmed earlier. They keep doing this. They release information that makes it sound like their store is a huge success but it’s data that’s not concrete, doesn’t use actual numbers or is very open to interpretation.

    And now Epic is claiming that they won’t be pursuing so many exclusives, claiming they want to use other strategies to attract customers. Now, I’m not an expert in business, but seeing how things work elsewhere, as long as a strategy works, they’ll keep using it. If they’re already thinking of stopping I don’t think they’re making as much as they’re spending.

    1. Preciousgollum says:

      Don’t Ubisoft games require Uplay anyway? Ever since Assassin’s Creed 2…

      So, what Ubisoft are actually doing with The Division 2 is providing it exclusively on Uplay using Uplay DRM, but then allowing Epic store to have keys, which link back to Uplay?

      I’m also quite surprised to realise that you cannot buy it digitally in any other place (after March 15th 2019) so this is likely to be a way to keep prices up and avoid sales… especially when Division 1 ended up quite cheap quite quickly.

      But… who cares? The mere announcement of a Division 2 made me roll my eyes at ‘most uncreative concept for a bi-annual sequel’ award for a series idea which ultimately disappointed a lot of people. However, in trying to make it more difficult to get, you can offset the losses with higher returns from ‘whale’ customers, via THE POWER OF THE PREMIUM.

      So, if I sneer with derision at The Division, the people that paid a lot of money will want to double down on their decision, and thus a company gets its acolytes and disciples. Division lol. The clue is in the title.

      As said above, Nintendo adopted a similar strategy where you don’t so much court the customers as you control the landscape that those customers visit.

      1. shoeboxjeddy says:

        Why was the announcement of a Division sequel so bad in your eyes? I don’t get it.

  17. DeadlyDark says:

    I’d have way less issues with Epic store, if there were no talks about spyware in it. For very least, it is confirmed, that it spied for user’s Steam installation. I saw claims of process modifications (though, I’m not sure how legit they are), and that scares me a lot

    1. Mephane says:

      Software dev here. Not going to debate any of the spyware issues, but the claims of process modification were false. What the launcher does is something rather normal, because of the particular way the Windows API functions. If a launcher wants to check whether any of the game it is meant to launch is already running, it can’t just ask Windows “is my app XYZ running”. Instead, it has to ask Windows for a list of all process IDs (just numbers, basically), then query for each ID the name of that process. That’s what people observed, and while from the outside it looks shady, it’s just the way you have to do it, because Microsoft. ¯\_(?)_/¯

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Fair enough

  18. Dreadjaws says:

    Man, I can’t really think of any 90s games I found weird and interesting but no one talks about anymore. Maybe Superhero League of Hoboken, which was a pretty fun RPG back then, and GOG keeps ignoring my requests to bring back (probably because I’m the only one to remember it). Thing is, while humorous and quirky it wasn’t particularly inventive in the gameplay genre, so I don’t know if it’d qualify.

    Then there was Evolva. This game had a pretty neat gimmick in which you controlled a group of aliens and absorbed enemies abilities by defeating them. You could evolve your characters to use these abilities and pick which character would get which depending on your necessities (for instance, you’d only need one character to smash rocks so others could pass, but you’d need all characters to be able to jump over chasms in order to progress). But that was pretty much it in the “innovation” department, and it’s from the year 2000, so it being a 90’s game is pushing it.

    I do have a lot of games in my memory that no one remembers, but I’d hesitate to call “weird”, “interesting” or “from the 90s”.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        What the bloody hell? I guess at some point I just assumed they’d never listen, so I stopped checking, but I figured there was a system to let me know if they had released a game I was asking for. I guess there wasn’t.

        Anyway, thanks for letting me know!

  19. Groboclown says:

    I always keep going back to Little Big Adventure 1 & 2 (“Relentless” and “Twinsen’s Odyssey” in the States). These games were great, but never caught on in the adventure game mindset from what I can tell. You can still play Twinsen’s Odyssey on Windows because it was made with an early version of Direct X, but Relentless was made for DOS and doesn’t do too well. Back in the Aughts, one of the original developers wrote a Windows client for Relentless, then about 5 or so years ago an Android version of Relentless came out. There’s still an active fan site (https://www.magicball.net/).

    Relentless still has one of the most fulfilling endings to any adventure game I’ve played. The music is amazing – it had on-CD tracks as well as MIDI for those who bought the non-CD version. The second one had an incredible introduction, where you’re playing the main character, helping out his pregnant wife, and you get a nice bonus where you revisit areas from the first game, but they’ve been turned into a tourist trap and are “safe” now.

  20. RFS-81 says:

    It’s probably too late for anyone to actually read this, but I’d also like to talk about a weird 90’s game: Albion, by the German studio BlueByte.

    It’s a Science Fantasy RPG. You play as Tom Driscoll, shuttle pilot on a giant corporate ship. Your job is to ferry a government scientist down to a desert planet, so that he can make sure there are no interesting life forms before your company starts strip-mining it. The scientist’s colleague died the night before in an explosion because he was operating his computer while the over-c drive was active, which apparently is a very stupid thing to do. This is not the end of unfortunate accidents, as your shuttle malfunctions and you crash land in the middle of a jungle – apparently, all data about the planet was completely wrong.

    You’re rescued by a species of extremely lanky furries: they look like Na’vi with tan fur, a prehensile tail and a telepathic organ on the forehead instead of USB ports. It seems unlikely that James Cameron played this, maybe there’s some common ancestor in science fiction literature? Also, they can cast spells, grow giant plant buildings and transfer their souls into the body of a newborn before they die!

    After being patched up, you want to find the landing site of the main ship which touched down in a desert somewhere and inform them about their mistake. Do you need me to point out that of course the bosses knew?

    Then it gets really weird. Another human murders one of the aliens, and since you’re the closest relative in the entire city (by virtue of being human), it’s your job to bring him to justice. It turns out that actually, humans have been living on the planet since practically forever. You later visit Celtic villages, with druids that can actually cast spells, and then move on to more fantastical cultures. The explanation for the humans is that some Celtic tribes were whisked away by a goddess before the advance of the Romans. Uuuh, OK?

    The game is not really special mechanically, but there’s so much weird world building that it’s really enjoyable to play tourist. It also has some neat puzzles. For example, you can investigate the death of the other scientist on the ship and find a gun. If you’re clever, you can smuggle it off the ship and have an extremely powerful weapon (compared to the planet’s tech level) with extremely limited ammo.

    Random side note: It’s the only RPG I remember where you have a deaf party member.

    Also, I love the way the introduction in the manual starts off: In the year 2XXX, scientists discovered the over-c drive, and also its golden rule: do not operate it in strong gravity fields. Luckily, the computer with the schematics was outside the blast radius.

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