Diecast #251: Risk of Rain 2, Satisfactory, Anthem

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 8, 2019

Filed under: Diecast 78 comments

We have an extra-long show for you this week. Note that I’m not promising it’ll be the same quality. I’m just saying there will be more of it.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
00:00 Dumpster Kittens

Link (YouTube)

According to my daughter:

The three in the box are Dwight(Black+White paint) Lady(Brown Tabby) and Ava(Mostly black). The one off on his own is Goblin, our little sickie baby.

Looks like they’re all going to make it. Thanks to everyone who tossed a few bucks into the GoFundMe.

02:24 Ditching Twitter

I don’t know if this is something the algorithm does for everyone, or if I somehow broke it so that it always wanted to show me the things I least wanted to see.

I don’t want to make too big a deal about this. All I did was close an account. I’m not trying to make some statement and convince the world that we should all abandon Twitter. I don’t care that other people still use it. I was just sickened by the stuff the algorithm promoted and I decided I didn’t need a steady drip of that nonsense.

I’m having to remember how I followed gaming news in the pre-Twitter days. I have to open up gaming sites directly and scroll through the headlines like some sort of savage. I should probably look and see if Reddit has any aggregation for gaming news.

19:57 Email Hack

It was a minor problem that was quickly fixed, but I did lose about 24 hours of email. Still, I do wonder how I lost control of that account. I usually use strong passwords.

23:43 Risk of Rain 2

During the show I talked about how I was working on getting the achievement / unlock for surviving for 20 levels. I got it about 3 hours after we wrapped the show:

It would take me too long to explain everything that's going on in this image. The short version is I've been shooting monsters for a very long time.
It would take me too long to explain everything that's going on in this image. The short version is I've been shooting monsters for a very long time.

I’m kind of sad that I’m basically done with everything for now. I’m having a lot of fun with this one, but I think I’ll shelve it until the devs roll out a few more features. The game is still in early access and there’s supposedly a lot more content on the way.

Also: I did not give Paul accurate information regarding the sealed chamber. Issac informed me that there are a couple of buttons nearby, and you need to press them both at once. It’s trivial to do if you’re playing with a friend, but if you’re playing alone then you have to shove one of the nearby pots onto the switch. This is hard, since the pots are explosive and you’ve usually got people shooting at you. I plan to drop the Engineer’s turret on one of the buttons and see if that counts.

37:34 Cardlife Abandoned

What a shame. I was planning to pick this up once it started coming together. It’s a fun idea with a great look. But now it’s (apparently) abandoned.

43:53 Replayed Portal 2

So good!

47:53 Satisfactory

On the show I mentioned that Paul builds circles around me. In my own games, I make incredibly slow progress because I spend a lot of time putting all of my machinery into warehouses and painting them by purpose like so:

Voyage to fantastic far-off worlds. Explore their strange topography. Witness the amazing animal life. COVER EVERYTHING IN PAVEMENT.
Voyage to fantastic far-off worlds. Explore their strange topography. Witness the amazing animal life. COVER EVERYTHING IN PAVEMENT.

It’s not the most efficient way to build, but… hm. Well, I’m sure all this effort counts for something.

54:29 Fallout 76 Repair Kits

Fallout 76 players say incoming Repair Kits break Bethesda’s no pay-to-win promise.

59:13 Anthem Development story

It’s a sad tale. Read it for yourself: How BioWare’s Anthem Went Wrong

1:13:19 Mailbag: Anthem Development

Dear Diecast,

Is there anything Randy Pitchford won’t do for money? Discuss.

Okay, more constructively:

In the fallout from Kotaku’s exposé of Bioware’s seemingly awful working environment during the Andromeda and Anthem periods, Bioware’s Casey Hudson complained that actual names were named and that this was unfair on those individuals. Leaving aside the fact that both Bioware and EA were sent the article before publication and declined to comment on it, do you think his position is reasonable? In a business where staff are stressed and overworked to the point of needing to take entire months of medical leave, and which has now had two high profile failures in as many years, should the people responsible (assuming due diligence on the part of the reporter) really expect to remain anonymous?



(* the “g” is soft)

I had no idea the G was soft. I’ve been silently imagining this name incorrectly for five years.


From The Archives:

78 thoughts on “Diecast #251: Risk of Rain 2, Satisfactory, Anthem

  1. Redrock says:

    On the subject of the Bioware-Kotaku thing, I’m partly with Hudson here. The state of the work environment at Bioware or other AAA studios is, I think, very much an institutional failure, not some single evil dude’s fault. So singling out particular execs is, while not wrong in terms of journalism or integrity, is mostly counterproductive Twitter mob bait. Sure, assigning blame is important and oh-so cathartic, but it does little to solve the problem and makes more people miserable. Do the people in question deserve to be made miserable? Debatable, but I’m not so sure. I didn’t get the impression that anyone twirled their mustache and came up with a plan to run a project in a way that would make the most people burn out. And I don’t think that people in top positions at Bioware weren’t stressed. Now, EA types, those guys are probably always lounging in their huge leather armchairs and only ever get slightly miffed when they don’t get their hourly dosage of Chardonnay mixed with baby seal blood.

    1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      Have you read the Kotaku article? The author did NOT put the blame on any single person or even shame people, the article makes it clear that this was a widespread management failure. That’s what pisses off everyone about Bioware’s answers, they just strawman this excellent article and prove its point : they are fundamentally incapable of taking criticism.

      1. Tizzy says:

        I think that was Redrock is saying that naming the execs in the article is tantamount to throwing them to be virtually torn to pieces by the internet mob. And that’s the unfortunate side-effect of the internet being a toxic swamp. But I’m with you, Gargamel: I read the article and it sounded fair and measured to me. I have no doubt that some of the people that Schreier talked to had an axe to grind, but he talked to 19 sources and did a good job at filtering out the ad hominem stuff to paint a reasonably objective picture of what happened. And it wasn’t pretty.

        1. Redrock says:

          To be clear, I’m not defending the way Bioware and EA handled interaction with Kotaku on this article, that’s just bad and impotent PR. I was just saying that on a personal level I think that Hudson is being sincere. The article itself is pretty well done, measured and professional. It seems that Bioware were expecting a much more hostile article, and planned their response accordingly.

      2. Chad Miller says:

        If anything I’d say a lot of the people named come off as the good guys. They didn’t say who demanded Anthem release last fiscal year, but they do name the guy who said “this game sucks, what were you doing for the last four years??”

    2. John says:

      I don’t agree with Hudson, at least not with respect to this specific article. First, the identities of the people who worked on Anthem in management and creative lead positions were never secret. Bioware itself revealed them in the game’s credits. Anyone determined to be nasty to those people already knows their names. Second, the article doesn’t single anyone out. Here’s a quote:

      The job of steering Anthem now fell to the creative leadership team, a group that included game director Jon Warner, design director Preston Watamaniuk, art director Derek Watts, animation director Parrish Ley, and a handful of other Mass Effect veterans who had been on Anthem since the beginning. Some current and former BioWare employees feel a lot of resentment toward this group, and in interviews many who worked on Anthem accused the leadership team of indecision and mismanagement.

      So, yes, while Schreier is clearly naming names, he’s also depicting Bioware’s failures as collective failures rather than attributing them to specific people.

      1. I find the article interesting, for sure. It really did feel like a game that was rushed out in 18 months, NOT like one that had been in development for 5+ years. You could see a lot of the same problems in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

        I’ve been playing a teeny, tiny studio game by Deep Silver named Outward, and for my money it’s as good or better than Anthem and probably cost less than 1/20th as much (if that).

        1. Quite apart from “calling out” any “bad guy”, the Kotaku article makes Mark Darrah look like Superman. I mean, look at the list of Bioware Greats who quit or failed to steer the game: Casey Hudson, Mike Laidlaw, David Gaider, Aaryn Flynn, James Ohlen . . .

          It’s not so much The Story of Who to Blame as The Story of Who Got Crushed by this Monster of a Game.

  2. Philadelphus says:

    I only started using one in 2014, but I find an RSS reader is pretty handy for keeping track of websites, especially ones where new posts aren’t on a set schedule. I use Feedly at the basic free tier, but there was a whole Wikipedia page of options out there to try when I last looked.

    1. I’m just gonna have to agree with using a RSS reader.

      “I’m having to remember how I followed gaming news in the pre-Twitter days. I have to open up gaming sites directly and scroll through the headlines like some sort of savage. I should probably look and see if Reddit has any aggregation for gaming news.”

      It’s called RSS Shamus :P

      Thunderbird has RSS support as has other email clients. And browsers too (or can have with RSS feed plugins), or standalone clients that pop up in your system tray when something is updated.

      1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

        RSS is great. I’m a very happy Feedly user myself.

    2. Zak McKracken says:

      Yes. RSS is an excellent replacement to going to different pages and scrolling and clicking to find something to read.
      I’m not using any online reader thingie but almost any old e-mail client will do nicely. Thunderbird in my case, but there’s tons of them out there.

      …actually I don’t quite get what those web-based readers are supposed to achieve. The cool thing about RSS is that it does _not_ require any user account or authentication. You just tell your client to get you the stuff from certain sites, and it goes off and gets it. WIth a web-based reader, that’s kind of negated.
      One advantage may be the ability to have read/unread/deleted items synchronized across devices, I guess, but I’m not really reading any feeds other than on my PC since I don’t like reading stuff on my phone that much.

  3. Tizzy says:

    Dumb question here: Did the players who ask for repair kits in Fallout 76 specifically ask that they be bought for real money in the store, rather than, say, dropped or crafted?

    1. trevalyan says:

      Wow, you guys dunked on repair kits. U’m pretty disappointed that, in relation to “players asked for this,” you never brought up the analogy of a game so bad it hacks off your limbs, only to replace them with cool artificial limbs, razor sharp wrist mounted blades in exchange for a $3.99 microtransaction, and bitchin’ subglasses. Which is all great, but -I- NEVER ASKED for this!!

      :D Eh? Eh?

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I never asked for this deep cut.

  4. Ninety-Three says:

    You should write up that “Fuck you and everyone who thinks like you” story because it’s hard to share podcast clips, and that is the best description I’ve ever heard of why Twitter is awful, and it’s an illustrative story instead of an abstract polemic. It is perfect.

    1. I also like how this blogs menu is less messy now with Twitter gone.

      Twitter and Facebook and social stuff like that clutter up sites, and external code is executed through the widgets, then there is the privacy stuff (how they track users of those services across the sites these widgets are on).
      Many point fingers at Facebook (and Twitter to a lesser extent) but I’ve not seen anyone point fingers at Disqus which is the comment widget on like half the sites out the that have comment sections.

  5. KotBasil says:

    Damn, now I really want to see an in-depth analysis of the engine situation for some engine guru. Like, I understand the complaints about Frostbite, but is it really worse than making an engine from scrath (for example, Unity is 14 years old, and it is still rough around the edges)? Is Frostbite not suitable for anything except shooters/FIFAs, or was it mostly management problem? Is renting a third-party engine for “live service” kind of AAA-game even viable? And so on.

    1. Mephane says:

      Software dev, but not game dev here. Also have no personal experience with the Frostbite engine outside the perspective of a player.

      The article quotes or paraphrases some sources saying “Frostbite is full of razor blades”. While that is not some widely established software dev lingo, it makes me think of middleware that only works when you follow some obscure undocumented protocol, makes no attempt to enforce this protocol at compile time, fails spectacularly at the slightest misstep, without ever hinting at the possible cause of the error. The kind of code where you are actually glad if failure leads to an immediate crash because the alternative is even worse.

    2. The Frostbite engine used to be called Refractor.
      If you look at this list https://battlefield.fandom.com/wiki/Refractor
      and then at this list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frostbite_(game_engine)

      Besides the odd rally and later FIFA games it’s basically the “Battlefield” engine.

      This is similar to the situation with Bethesda Game Studios and the Creation Engine (although BGS bought the source to the Gamebryo Engine and then made that their own at which point they called it the Creation Engine).

      Unreal started as a engine for erm Unreal, it’s gotten better over the years but it too had issues with certain games. There are certain issues with mass Effect series, the unreal “texture pop-in” and that it did not lend it self that well to a “RPG”.

      The engine that powered KoTOR/KoTOR2 and Dragon Age Origins was a engine well suited for RPGs as that is what it was designed for.

      There are very few general purpose engines that are good for everything. GTA Vs engine would probably not work that well for other games, and I suspect Rockstar rewrites huge chunks of their own engine for each game that uses it anyway.

      EA mandating use of Frostbite is stupid though, even Zenimax has no issues with BGS and iD using their own engines etc.

      1. John says:

        I believe that the weird texture pop-in that happens Civilization V whenever you jump from one view of the map to another is also a product of Firaxis using the Unreal engine. I first played Civilization V on a severely under-powered computer, and so I thought that the texture pop-in was a hardware issue. I was disappointed when I played it again on a much more robust computer and texture pop-in was still a thing, albeit not quite so bad. XCOM, which is also an Unreal engine game, doesn’t have pop-in problems so either the engine got better, Firaxis got better at using it, or there’s just some difference between the games that means it isn’t a problem any more.

    3. ElementalAlchemist says:

      Unity is 14 years old, and it is still rough around the edges

      Possibly the greatest understatement in the history of mankind….

    4. Olivier FAURE says:

      The Anthem development article gave me The Writer Will Do Something flashbacks.

  6. Joe says:

    One thing Shamus didn’t mention about the Anthem development, some people were actually good with using Frostbite, but got transferred to other games! So that added to the brain drain. Also, there was little inter-studio talk. The higher profile Bioware studios didn’t listen to the ones further down. So if someone had a good idea, they had no reason to share it.

    OTOH, the people who talked to Jason, presumably they put themselves in a positive light. “I was doing all I could, but the team didn’t have my back.” I wonder if he took that into account. He didn’t do a lot of naming the guilty parties.

    By the way, I’ve heard him on the Kotaku podcast. It’s I as in die.

    1. Geebs says:

      I agree with both of your points about the Kotaku article. It certainly did read as if everybody was getting blamed for the failure of Andromeda and Anthem apart from the people who actually made them. That might well be true, but it does come off as potentially a bit one-sided. Still, it seems as if the really big problems were a failure of direction and a seriously adverse workplace, and the working environment is determined by the people at the top.

      On the other hand, as I read through the article, I remember thinking “Gosh, these Bioware developers do bitch about Frostbite a whole lot! FIFA is on Frostbite, and comes out every year with a big online component and hardly any bugs”…… and then I hit the bit about how all of the people at Bioware who could actually use Frostbite were getting poached by EA and reassigned to FIFA. I suddenly felt a lot more sympathetic to Bioware after reading that.

  7. MechaCrash says:

    As you have no doubt noticed, the problem you ran into with Twitter is that it’s meant to create “engagement.” It doesn’t care what form this engagement takes, and the quickest way to do that is to get people pissed off. Facebook and YouTube do basically the same thing.

    This is not helped by the fact that nobody wants to hire actual moderators, so they just shrug and make more wildly inadequate algorithms, which creates a feedback loop of “one guy takes a dump in the pool, people who don’t like swimming in poop-water leave, people who enjoy taking dumps in pools show up because hey apparently they’re welcome, and soon it’s just another sewer.”

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Even without moderators, they could improve this situation, but adding more info to their machine-learning-whatever-buzz-words algorithm. Do many people unfollow/block/etc a person? Does the amount of swears go up when a person retweets this person (and vise versa)? Heck, maybe they tried this, and found that they don’t get enough ad-revenue, so they turned down the knobs on those pieces of their magic algorithm. :S

      I still haven’t run into this type of problem with Twitter, but maybe that’s because I barely use it? The worst part for me, is that they changed their terms of service, so that Hootsuite can no longer post to them, which means I can’t have my short-form anecdotes / thoughts on both Twitter (“tweets”) and Facebook (“updates”). OK cool Twitter, since you don’t want to share me with another platform, you lose out on me ever using your platform. Sorry, /rant. :)

    2. galacticplumber says:

      This would be why I have a wide list of stuff I’m subscribed to and almost exclusively watch. Can’t give me bad advice algorithms if all my content is HAND-PICKED!

    3. Baron Tanks says:

      What a beautiful analogy.

  8. Lars says:

    So, no visiting Rachel for the next couple of month, cause of kitten dander? Good for the kittens, bad for you.

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    Re: naming names at Bioware, I think the abstract “when is it okay to to call out specific people” question misses important specific details here. Yes, the Kotaku articles mentioned a few people by name, but Jesus, read the articles for context. It’s not like they’re saying “The engine choice was a giant mistake and that’s all on Bob Johnson, screw that guy, plus Casey Hudson is a terrible manager”. I don’t even remember anyone coming out particularly badly. Whatever you think of naming people in general, was there anything remotely objectionable to this naming? It looks like Hudson is just trying to spin an article that paints Bioware in general in a bad light.

    1. Geebs says:

      I would actually go further than that. From what I’ve heard, media companies (games, film, animation) usually seem to be run by borderline crooks with lots of “personality” who abuse their staff, withhold pay on a routine basis and fire people for such awful crimes as “being employed long enough to qualify for benefits” and “being owed a bonus which they will now never see”.

      These people get away with it because they have a surplus of potential job applicants and because their bad behaviour, which is usually an open secret within the industry, is kept quiet since nobody wants to lose their job.

      My take on it is, people have tried to improve the entertainment industry for decades without “calling out specific people” and it’s still a horror-show. Naming a few names might be the only thing which helps.

    2. Boobah says:

      The mind-boggling thing is, as mentioned further up the page, is that:

      1) BioWare/EA were sent the article ahead of time for comment
      2) The article doesn’t really name names above and beyond what the game’s credits do, and
      3) Hudson’s ‘response’ whines about naming names.

      Yes, when the complaint comes across as a non-sequitur I think ‘whine’ is an appropriate verb. I’d probably feel differently if it weren’t a response to an article that has ‘no one was in charge’ as the main thrust.

      1. Syal says:

        They didn’t see the full article until it went live. They were sent a summary of the article, as well as questions about specific people. I’m assuming the summary and the targeted questions gave a more negative impression than the final article.

  10. Legendary Teeth says:

    Not that Twitter is that great, but the ONLY way to use it is with a 3rd party app like Fenix for Android that gives you only and exactly what people you follow post or retweet, in chronological order, while keeping your place in that order for next time. No ads, no suggested content. Just classic twitter. Shame you can’t just like… Pay twitter for that.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      Eh, if the platform used to be good, but got deliberately turned shitty, selling the not-shitty version at a premium is scummy.

      1. Legendary Teeth says:

        Well they need some way to make money and their current strategy is causing a lot of this BS. Maybe that’s not the perfect solution but neither is what they have now.

  11. John says:

    I definitely agree that Portal 2 is a good game, but I think I prefer Portal. I hate the boss fights in both games (in fact, I hate that the games have boss fights to begin with) but I think that the boss fight in Portal 2 is worse. In Portal, I somehow found the resolve to struggle through the boss fight. In Portal 2, I thought to myself “there is no playable content on the other the side of this boss fight that I will miss out on if I give up now” and consequently gave up after a couple of tries. I also think that Portal 2 is too long. I thought that the narrative was interesting and the writing was generally very good, but the game would have benefited from being shorter and more focused. Part of Portal’s was brilliance was just how very focused it was.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah, if anything Portal 2 was too big. At the time it felt like value, but looking back I wonder if it wasn’t more the laziness of throwing in the kitchen sink.

    2. Distec says:

      I think my biggest issue with Portal 2 (a generally swell game all around) is its tone. Sure, GLaDOS got chuckles out of me in the first game and there was an intentional comedy element. But it was a lot more sinister and threatening. The Aperture Labs could be kinda spooky, especially when you start discovering the hidden rooms and crawlspaces outside of the chambers.

      Portal 2 felt like it jettisoned a lot of that and made up for their absence with more whackiness and mirth. It’s as if they they realized that “The Cake Is a Lie” and the credits song were super popular memes, so they went all in on those elements at the expense of the others. Characters like Wheatley and Cave Johnson don’t actually feel like they could exist in Portal 1, at least to me. And that’s a shame. I do love me some Cave Johnson and looked forward to every line he delivered, but I kinda wish they didn’t go that direction.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Yeah, it’s like Portal was a sincerely fascinating and spooky haunted house, and Portal 2 was discovering it’s part of a carnival.

      2. Ninety-Three says:

        I want to raise another tone issue the game had. The game wants us to be sad when Cave Johnson dies, but the man died because he went seventy million dollars into debt buying moon rocks so he could take a bath in them. The game doesn’t seem to realize just how wacky it is, so it makes these bizarre excursions into seriousness, like how it ends by giving the comic-relief villain a monologue about his genuine repentance and he doesn’t have any jokes.

  12. silver Harloe says:

    If you want a ‘second way’ for people to engage with this community besides the blog, may I suggest you create a discord server?

    It encourages short messages like twitter (but doesn’t enforce shortness), and is separated into “servers” (communities) – so you could subscribe to and only to the TwentySided community and while it would not really serve as a “gaming news” site(*), it would be able to serve the other functions you wanted from twitter – namely a place where people could post things like “blog is down” and/or “didn’t you write an article about X some years ago?”

    I haven’t figured out their financial model, but it doesn’t seem to be trying to curate what I read to maximize engagement, and I haven’t seen any advertisements.

    Just a thought

    (*) except you could make a sub-set of your community devoted to gaming news and people in the TwentySided community might post there

    1. silver Harloe says:

      There are some unknowns I have like:
      *) does it cost anything to host a community? (but I know twitch streamers with <50 followers who have discords, so probably not?).
      *) Would posting an invite link in your blog/on your sidebar mean you had a constant stream of bots? (I haven't seen any bot posts on discord, but I could just be in the "wrong" communities. or very much in the right ones. But I also don't "keep up" with every discord I'm on. Some I check very, very sporadically)

    2. silver Harloe says:

      d’oh. Ninja’d by Paul. In the actual podcast, 5 minutes after I posted the first message. Hahaha.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        It’s a sound plan, and I endorse it.
        As Shamus counters, it would risk forking the community.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I have a somewhat troubled relationship with Discord but it might be mostly a me problem. The thing is that everyone and their dog have a server now and I can’t help but feel a bit pressured to join the servers of the people whose work I enjoy. Now I’m generally very introverted and social interactions (especially in real life) exhaust me and once you have a bunch of communities in your client it feels like having Twitch chat on 24/7. Again, I know most of it is in my head but still.

        2. CrushU says:

          Technically, any platform would do that, including Twitter.
          Realistically, it just makes a second ‘tier’ of people who care enough to engage on these topics, and can also serve as a source of people to play games with. :D

  13. Algeh says:

    I stopped using my Twitter account quite a few years ago because I’m a completionist about keeping up with what I read, and Twitter is not a healthy place to be if that’s your mindset. Trying and failing to keep up with everything my list of people posted on Twitter not only caused me to leave Twitter, but also LiveJournal/Dreamwidth as well in a general feeling of “I don’t have time for this exhausting thing I keep doing, and if I really wanted to feel like I was always behind on my reading I could take philosophy classes again”. I then started spending the several hours a day I was spending trying to keep up with people online going for walks instead, and it was a general lifestyle improvement, although I do end up out of the loop on things sometimes.

    Now what I do is have a few specific Twitter accounts that I check on while logged out by viewing their page directly. This actually works really well, because it means that all I see are the posts in order from the account I’m trying to look at, and Twitter doesn’t try to curate my experience in some terrible way. It also scales fairly well in that I have certain accounts that I keep up with because I view them more often, and accounts fall out of that as their post volume exceeds my spare time or post content exceeds my patience level.

    I mostly look at a couple of places in the Dog Twitter area (which tends to be lighthearted and a good place for me to look at as part of my morning routine), one or two places in the Higher Education Inside Baseball Twitter area (which is as close as I get to politics in that some of it deals with the politics of education, but the people I read there are very good at being articulate, backing up claims with research, and talking to each other rather than yelling at each other), a couple of places in Videogame/TTRPG Twitter (although I avoid most of that), and occasional forays into Filk Twitter or SF fan Twitter more generally, although that can trend too much into Exhausting Righteous Indignation Twitter for regular visits. (I usually try to check in on people I may be talking to at the con as it gets close to a convention I plan to attend.)

    What I find most exhausting is when people who are on Team My Views want to have a drawn out “let’s be upset about everything that is happening in the world that we don’t like! If we keep looking, we will find so many things!” conversation with me. I used to have a close friend who would do this, and couldn’t understand that while I agreed with him on almost every issue he’d want to discuss, I found it stressful to live in a stew of worry and anger about a bunch of things I couldn’t change and so wanted to limit how much time I spent on thinking about those things separate from actual actions I could take. I’d certainly discuss which people to try to vote into or out of office based on their likely policy proposals during appropriate times in election season or similar, but getting wound up about every single policy proposed by Team Not My Views without taking some kind of action wouldn’t actually fix anything. (I eventually made him have something similar to a Swear Jar where he had to put a quarter in the (specific advocacy group sharing his views related to things he tended to be upset about) Jar every time he got wound up about politics without having some other action to take. He’d mail off a check to the group when the jar filled up.)

    On the other hand, I had another friend who had different views than me on a lot of issues, but we both came from the premise that the other person was also a person who spent time thinking about things and held opinions for reasons. We’d manage to have a lot of calm multi-hour political discussions in which we actually covered ground that the other person hadn’t thought about, and that was a valuable sort of discussion for me to have. We both learned a lot about nuance, weighing the likely goods and harms of various policies, and why a reasonable person might hold a different view than we did. I have completely failed to find any place to replicate that sort of thing online, though, and now hang out only in places that just avoid politics.

    I’m pretty sure the problem is that the social media sites are chasing “engagement” and lots of people enjoy sitting there and getting wound up like my friend did so will spend hours in the Righteous Indignation Swamp. I don’t know how to fix that without blowing up the business model, so I mostly am just not there.

  14. Paul Spooner says:

    For comparison to Shamus’ neat and tidy base, here’s my monstrosity (before I added the overhanging decks):

    I really hope the devs add a “blueprint” tool, which will copy everything connected to the same foundation system, so you can make copies of whole factories at once. It would be ample justification for me to use foundations, and make compact multi-story structures. Not before the end-of-April update though. Need those sweet conveyor lifts!

    1. CrushU says:

      “Oh, neat. I wonder what his looks like…”
      00:30 in…

      I build more like Shamus, but I don’t color code things. Instead, I have the base level of the factory that gets fed Iron ingots, and turns it into Plates/Rods/Screws, and feeds them up to the second level. Second level has Steel foundries, and makes Rotors, Stators, and Steel stuff as well as Reinforced Plates. And ships them up to the third level. The third level, so far, makes Modular Frames and Motors. Currently it’s not making enough Screws so I’ll be adding another section to the first level that takes iron ingots and makes screws.

      Essentially, if it’s 1 thing into 1 other thing, it’s on the first level. If it’s 2 things into 1 other thing, it’s on the second level. If there’s more than one Assembler in its build tree, it’s on the third level. (So Stators are on the second level because it’s the only Assembler in its build tree, )

      Seems to work so far, and I’ve also found a method to feed conveyors up through the floor, so the entire thing looks like a windowless box. Just like a real soul-crushing factory!

  15. Dreadjaws says:

    I had no idea the G was soft. I’ve been silently imagining this name incorrectly for five years.

    Mmm… I don’t know why, but I’ve always read this with a soft G, even though something like “Gee” is read with a hard one. Weird.

  16. Hal says:

    I think the saddest thing about the BioWare story is that the original game pitch that they imagined for Beyond . . . sounds like a lot of fun. Shame that game never got made.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Yeah, the original game concept sounds a lot more interesting. :S

  17. Paul Spooner says:

    I was at work one day, when I got a call from my wife.
    “I’ve made a terrible mistake.” She tells me. It sounds like she’s close to tears.
    “What happened? Are the kids okay?”
    “Yes, it’s just… I rescued a kitten.”
    This wasn’t her first time handling kittens. She had helped her cat birth a couple litters in her room back before we were married, so she knew what to do with a kitten. How to handle them. How to feed them. But it didn’t stop with kittens.

    My wife is always rescuing things. Sprouting plants, free furniture on the side of the road, and of course baby animals. About six months before this she had fought off a murder of crows to rescue a baby squirrel, which she then raised in our apartment (in violation of the rental agreement) until it recovered enough to run away. Not before it had chewed through a few electrical cords though. For a few weeks it would perch on her shoulders and try to eat her earrings. Wild animals man, no sense at all.

    So when she was on a walk with the kids, and heard mewling coming from under a porch, her kitten rescue instincts kicked in. But it turns out that Admiral Ackbar wasn’t able to reach her in time, because these weren’t house cats. Somewhere along the way, they had lost the thousands of years of domestication that she was expecting. When she withdrew her already bloodied hand, it came holding a feral kitten; spitting, biting, scratching, and howling.

    Now, if it had been me… well, a lot of things would have been different, but if an animal doesn’t want me near it, I’m either going to kill it or leave it alone. But my wife… she was going to SAVE this kitten! She trapped it in a towel, took it home, literally let the cat out of the bag in the bathroom tub, treated her arm, and then called me at work.

    “What am I going to do? I don’t think I can keep it!”
    “You’re right. You can’t keep it because you’re going to take it to the animal shelter and surrender it so they can test it for rabies.”
    “Don’t they have to kill it to test it?”
    “I don’t know,” I say, “But you’re going to do it anyway.”
    “Okay. I’m sorry! It just sounded so sad!”
    “I know. I love you.”
    And that was the last time I talked to my wife. On the phone. That day.

    1. Lino says:

      That must have been an interesting day, to say the least! Did everything turn out OK?

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        No infections. No rabies. No more rescue animals.
        Yep, everything turned out OK.

    2. Redrock says:

      Killing an animal to test for rabies? What, are your local animal shelters run by the Fireflies from The Last of Us?

      1. Gautsu says:

        Rabies test is done by examining the brain. Only way to do that ethically is by examining a dead animal

        1. Syal says:

          Although, from CDC’s page:

          Based on routine public health surveillance and pathogenesis studies, we have learned that it is not necessary to euthanize and test all animals that bite or otherwise potentially expose a person to rabies. For animals with a low probability of rabies such as dogs, cats, and ferrets, observation periods (10 days) may be appropriate to rule out the risk of potential human rabies exposure.

          1. Redrock says:

            Yeah, that was kinda what I meant. In my experience, the animal is pit under observation, but more often than not they give you the shot regardless.

  18. evilmrhenry says:

    Regarding the spam, I checked haveibeenpwned.com, and it says that email address has been compromised, through Nexus Mods. The compromise was only for hashed+salted passwords, but no indication if they used a password-grade hashing method or not. (Password-grade hashing methods are specifically designed to take a significant amount of resources to break; the user doesn’t care if login takes an extra half-second, but that half-second hurts anyone trying to guess the password. Normal hashing methods are designed to be as fast as possible, which is the opposite of what you want here.)

    So, assuming you created an email address for this specific site, I would say the odds are good that you used the same password for the site as the email, and made it something simple, because it’s just a throwaway account. Assuming the site didn’t use a password-grade hashing method, it’s actually reasonable enough to use a dictionary attack on each individual account in turn, then see if the user/pass was reused anyplace interesting.

    1. Shamus says:

      That is fascinating. Thanks!

      And yes, I have a Nexus account. So lazy password re-use is likely the source of the breach.

      (I don’t do that anymore. Last year I started using a password manager and now everything has a large and unique password.)

      1. Ander says:

        Password managers feel like a sign of systemic failure in the password system. We were supposed to have different keys for every room; now we have a master key of sorts. Not to say they’re bad; I’m sure they’re the best we can do given the password security system we have to deal with. I get that physical access is usually the point at which it doesn’t matter anymore, but as someone whose work is done primarily on a laptop, the centralized password manager feels just that little bit less secure.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          Password managers completely erode the system. There are good ways of making hundreds of unique passwords that are easy to memorize (or recreate based on url) but hard to crack.
          My “normal” passwords are 18 characters and part is always the same, part is easily generated.

        2. evilmrhenry says:

          I will say that password managers are a good solution to the problem of “every single site I visit requires me to log in”, and are generally more secure than reusing passwords, which is what everyone would do otherwise. (Yes, there are ways to generate unique passwords for a particular site, but nobody actually does that.)

          Personally, I use a password manager combined with randomly generated passwords for most sites, but I memorize my email and banking passwords. Before that, I just had a password that I reused across all low-value sites. (Then one of the low-value sites got hacked…)

  19. krellen says:

    It’s funny. I only have Twitter because of you, Shamus (I signed up to respond to something you said, I think about Star Wars or SWTOR or something like that), and I’ve gotten full into Twitter while you’ve only drifted further away.

    Of course, I don’t have Facebook, so I don’t have an alternate avenue.

    If you ever decide to go back to Twitter, I can give you some hacks for the system to get rid of those “while you were gone” and suggested things. They’ve worked for me so far. (These are tools in the settings on web, not apps.)

  20. Zak McKracken says:

    Just because I recently joined that particular gang: Ever looked at / thought about Mastodon?*

    I was never on Twitter, so I can’t compare the user experience, but the Mastodon one is pretty nice. I’m amazed at how civilized it all is, and how tactfully even most disagreements work out. Of course that may not be the case in every corner of the community but I still very much dig it.

    It’s also open source, free and decentralized, i.e. not backed by some venture capital that somebody wants to make back by monetizing the users’ contributions. And as with e-mail, if you don’t like your provider you can just pick another one, or set up your own server.


    1. tmtvl says:

      Mastodon is… remarkable if you speak Japanese. The community is a mere fraction of the Twitter community so it has less vitriol and flame bait.

  21. Fabrimuch says:

    Slightly off-topic but I haven’t been around here for a while: what happened to the rest of the Diecast? I’ve been scrolling through the backlog and noticed it’s just Paul and Shamus

    1. Dave B. says:

      You can read about what happened (in part) in this post.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Diecast #198 is where I started co-hosting. The reception has been mixed, as I’ve been a loud voice in the community for a while, and made a greedy share of impressions of all sorts. The comments on Diecast #207 has the highest density of my detractors, if that’s what you’re into.

        I’d be interested in hearing how you feel the show has changed, aside from the quantity and tenor of voices.

        1. Fabrimuch says:

          Damn, that’s pretty sad :(

          From what little I’ve listened to I think you’re both okay, but I found the Diecast to be more interesting to listen to when it was 3 or 4 people bouncing off each other. Two calm, easy-going guys talking for an hour and a half just isn’t the most entertaining to me personally haha. I think if there was at least one more person on the show I would enjoy it a lot more.

          But then again, I was never the most avid listener of the Diecast and tended to only listen to it when they were discussing some topic I cared about so yeah

          1. Fabrimuch says:

            Also maybe this is a dumb question but how do I sned questions to the mailbag?

            1. Shamus says:

              The email is in the header image.

          2. rabs says:

            I also feel the old style was more entertaining, but quite messy and sometimes annoying. There were some really great moments though.

            Overall I like better calm talks, but I guess it’s a matter of taste. Makes me notice that it’s common to all the podcasts I listen to regularly.

        2. CrushU says:

          I wish there was a non-programmer on the show, which is weird as I’m a programmer and the primary reason I’m still around is because I like hearing about other programmers’ takes on things that happen.

          But it would be nice if there were someone who was not in that circle (but hopefully still interested in it) to talk about what things look like from outside of that circle.

          I wish SoldierHawk could be a regular contributor, but I guess she’s busy with too many other things?

  22. rabs says:

    About Twitter, I have an unusual setup: like some people commenting before, I’m mainly a RSS feed reader.
    At least for notification, I usually go to the websites to read articles that interest me.

    I was sad when Twitter dropped their RSS support, though the tool I’m using is a very customizable bunch of perl modules, including one to scrap HTML. It’s quite easy to map HTML elements like div to RSS fields, and they are very rarely redesigning the structure of the page.
    So I end up with clean feeds from the accounts I’m following. Though I never log in nor participate in Twitter, I only scrap the public pages. Maybe it would be better to use their API otherwise.

    The tool I’m using is named Plagger, and my flow is to aggregate RSS items as email, stored in maildir folders I’m reading over IMAP.
    Email clients already have all the features I need, and there are some good ones on all devices.

    Maybe there are more user friendly tools to do twitter -> RSS and RSS -> IMAP. I saw some web applications, but I like better to do it my way and knowing what’s going on. At least, I wasn’t hit by Google Reader’s end.

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