Diecast #252: Far: Lone Sails, Early Access, Level Design

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 15, 2019

Filed under: Diecast 54 comments

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
00:00 The News FROM SPACE!

As a reminder: I get excited about SPACE NEWS but I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to astronomy and space exploration. I only follow the shallowest of science news from space, so take all of my jabbering with a grain of salt.

If you’re like me and you want the softball version of these stories, then Scott Manley has two of these covered: How Israel’s Lander Crashed Into The Moon, And How Falcon Heavy Flew.

16:00 FAR: Lone Sails

Link (YouTube)

22:03 Everything is Early access

Are more games being released in Early Access, or am I just playing an unusual number of them? I don’t even know how you’d go about giving a definitive answer to this.

28:04 Paul’s New Computer

In this segment, I sort of take a swipe at the idea of limiting “screen time” for kids. This Penny Arcade strip pretty much sums up how I feel about it. It wasn’t until later that I remembered that this is an incredibly controversial argument in the parenting scene. My wife Heather runs a parenting group on Facebook, and this is one of those topics that always seems to start a fire.

For the record, this is just what worked for our family. Every kid is different. Do what you think is right. I don’t think you’re a bad parent if you do something different.

Here are the specs we talked about on the show:

  • Cooler Master Elite 130 – Mini-ITX Computer Case with Mesh Front Panel and Water Cooling Support
  • GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G Graphics Card, 2 x WINDFORCE Fans, 6GB 192-Bit GDDR5, GV-N1660OC-6GD Video Card
  • AMD RYZEN 5 2600 6-Core 3.4 GHz (3.9 GHz Max Boost) Socket AM4 65W YD2600BBAFBOX Desktop Processor
  • Windows 10 Home – 64-bit – OEM – OEM
  • Intel 660p Series M.2 2280 1TB PCI-Express 3.0 x4 3D NAND Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) SSDPEKNW010T8X1
  • ASRock Fatal1ty B450 GAMING-ITX/AC AM4 AMD B450 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 HDMI Mini ITX AMD Motherboard
  • CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2933 (PC4 23400) Desktop Memory Model CMK16GX4M2Z2933C16
  • Seasonic FOCUS series SSR-450FM 450W 80 + Gold Power Supply, Semi-Modular, ATX12V/EPS12V, Compact 140 mm Size, 7 yr warranty

That’s what Paul has ordered. We’ll let you know how it goes next week.

I’m still using the machine that was gifted to me back in 2013. I’ve upgraded the graphics card since then and replaced a few other parts, but I’m still using the same CPU / Mobo.

The same processor! For six years! And it still runs AAA games! What is this sorcery?

I do plan on getting a new GPUThe GTX 1660 looks like the sweet spot on price / performance right now. this year, assuming all goes well.

39:07 Procedural vs. Hand-Crafted Gamespace

Paul is talking about this post.

1:00:26 “Audio error: Please restart your computer”

Yeah, why DOES the YouTube error screen emulate analog TV noise?

1:05:21 Crazy Mouse

And because I know some of you will ask, here is the interface:

I like how they only translated the most obvious buttons and left the rest in Chinese.
I like how they only translated the most obvious buttons and left the rest in Chinese.






[1] The GTX 1660 looks like the sweet spot on price / performance right now.

From The Archives:

54 thoughts on “Diecast #252: Far: Lone Sails, Early Access, Level Design

  1. Mr. Wolf says:

    Hands up everybody who does not, or would not, limit children’s screen time because to do so would make you a massive hypocrite.

    1. boz says:

      It’s not a black and white issue. While I may not limit screen time on stuff like Minecraft or Terraria or Subnautica (more exploration and different kind of legos). I would outright bar my kids from playing anything with lootboxes. I don’t want to brainwash my kid into gambling addiction from a young age.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        I’ll permanently stay an uncle, but if it comes up ^this^ is also the thing I’d be worried about, rather than general-purpose computer-time. Things which are potentially damaging to a young brain, that’s still learning how the world works. Loot-boxes, microtransactions, etc, would all be something I’d want to discuss first, and limit, instead of *everything*. Computers are valuable tools, and it’s specific things, which should be controlled for children using them.

    2. Decius says:

      It’s not the hypocrisy that would stop me; does that count?

    3. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Eh, children have a bed time but adults can stay up later than is wise. I don’t think “because I, the adult, want to do that thing” is a good reason to let a child do it. Like, if you’re a smoker, obviously you should stop doing that. But if you can’t or won’t, no matter what you should prevent your child from taking it up.

    4. Gordon says:

      There’s also an interesting distinction between limiting and rationing. “You get 1 hour a day” creates a different set of incentives from “you’ve been doing that for a while why not go play outside for a bit”.

  2. Kubic says:

    I was gonna suggest that you use the Google Translate app on the mouse software but then Paul does that exact same thing in the last seconds of the show.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Figured I’d save it for the stinger. Glad you appreciated it.

    2. Gordon says:

      As an English only person who likes to holiday in Europe I love the translate app, particularly the real time camera functionality. What does this menu say? Vegan… maybe not. Can I walk down this road past this quite intimidating sign? “no parking, big fines”, cool.

      1. RobS says:

        As an English speaking American currently living and working in Japan with limited Japanese skills, the translate app is a godsend! I use it practically every day. It does on occasion give some strange and even hilarious results, but it’s far more often useful than not.

        Here’s a little bit of “Inception” level fun, using the camera translator on my phone to translate the Japanese text displayed on Google maps on my tablet. :)

  3. Joe says:

    Now we have black holes, can we please get on to wormholes, teleportation, or another speed of light workaround? Because you might have heard, space is big. You won’t believe…

    Sometimes when I come to a puzzle, I try to think like the level designers. Guess how they intended for it to be solved. And what do you know, it works. It’s a cynical approach. I’m not happy with it. Shouldn’t puzzles make sense in the game world? Oh well. I’m not big on puzzles anyway.

    That mouse looks really uncomfortable. Also, when I got a light-up mouse, first thing I did was turn the light off. Because someone will ask: I bought it because it was ambidexterous and had enough buttons. Ambi mice just seem to be rare, and most are light in the button department.

    1. Decius says:

      If you want to think like a level designer, and are machoistic, try playing The Witness.

      1. Joe says:

        No thanks. I only do puzzles when I have to. Much like crafting systems, I put up with them for the goodies, I don’t enjoy them for their own sakes.

  4. Lars says:

    Early Access is another name for “The Indie Revolution”. Most of the indie titles are released in early access to provide income to finish the game. In Double- and Triple-A the publishers release Early Access titles as well (with much less polish) but they don’t call them that.
    There aren’t more Early Access titles these days, you just tend to play more indie games (and Anthem).

  5. Ninety-Three says:

    Regarding the Falcon: You need a spectacularly enormous parachute to set down an entire rocket which as pointed out introduces complexity, but also a long spindly rocket deploying an enormous parachute is going to be subject to some nasty stresses. Finally, it’s pretty hard to hit a floating platform on rocket power, it’s basically impossible to do it on an poorly-controlled parachute (and you’re pushed to land in the ocean because there are a lot of people who’d be upset if your experimental rocket’s trajectory had it coming down over their house).

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Oh, yes! And you really want to land on the barge instead of splash down in the ocean because salt water ruins everything.

  6. Hal says:

    My kids are 3, so they don’t get any screen time just yet.

    I think part of the argument stems from adults not quite considering how different the digital landscape is from when they were coming of age. When I was growing up, “screen time” meant NES and our ancient 33Mhz desktop running Windows 3.1. I learned to program a little Basic, but that was the extent of the educational nature of the use. We got our first dial-up internet, AOL, when I was in 6th grade.

    Today, on the other hand? Think about that video post last week about all the ways Fortnite is designed to suck you in and get you to spend money. Adults can see this stuff reasonably well, but kids are really vulnerable to the pressure this creates. Plus the basic sewage that social media can be, which seems to be turned up to 11 for kids because it takes all the stupid social elements of being 13 and ensures you can never, ever walk away from them. That on top of all the rest of what makes the internet a cess pool at times. I can’t tell you how many stories I keep hearing about kids whose first exposure to pornography was at school from a friend with a smartphone.

    So, I have no qualms about limiting my children’s screen time, now or in the future. “Limiting” is not “prohibiting.” We’re not amish, but part of parenting is setting boundaries. If you plant a garden, you do have to work to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Our kids are pretty independent, and we’ve let them play mostly whatever they want. The idea being they will be stronger for having been exposed to the various marketing ploys, and better able to see through them from those experiences. We (my wife and I) tend to stick to pretty tame stuff ourselves, so that helps. Neither of us play subscription or F2P games, so the kids generally don’t ask for that kind of stuff either.

    2. Christopher says:

      I mean, twenty years ago for me it was a friend with a computer showing me porn. It’s always gonna be a new thing every generation that “justifies” being just as strict as your dad was.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Before that, it was porn mags taken from Dad’s[1] cache hidden in the closet. The specific things they’re accessing are the problem, not the computer.

        [1] Or the dad of the friend, or their older brother, or…

        1. Raven_Sloth says:

          I think it was like weird trading cards and a magazine someone had recycled and a friend fished out for me and I think that was 2010ish. I could be misremembering order though since I also remember a friend in 5th grade showing me porn pics on his flip phone that couldn’t have had more than 250 pixels in either direction. I also remember in middle school at some point thinking it was strange that someone I knew had so limited internet access and they told me it was because their parents caught them watching porn. Honestly though I think it is worse when a kid downloads a virus when they want something like the Pokemon movie or something.

  7. ElementalAlchemist says:

    Didn’t listen to the show, so I don’t know if this was addressed, but this is absolutely the worst time to buy a new Ryzen, especially a low- to mid-spec one, when the next gen is due out in the next couple of months.

  8. shoeboxjeddy says:

    When I was growing up, the concept of “screen time” didn’t exist, but neither did me as a child having access to a smart phone or tablet or fast internet access or online video games. What DID exist was “you can’t play the Nintendo right now because I say so, go play outside with your brothers.” I think that’s a necessary bit of parental authoritarianism because I would have just spent entire days on the Nintendo otherwise. So parents should feel free to dictate terms to their kids, so long as it makes sense to them. If your kid is learning something on the computer (watching a nature documentary on Youtube or making a city with a functional plumbing system in Minecraft or whatever), maybe let them have that one? What I would have appreciated as a kid is if my parents understood at all what kinds of things I was even interested in. Mine lost track around the time of the change from the Genesis to the N64 and never bothered to keep up otherwise, aside from listening to direct hints for gifts and that kind of thing.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      My parents were all braced to keep us from watching too much television, but then computer gaming came up and they were kind of at a loss. I ended up laboring under a variety of artificial constraints to limit our gaming and computer use.
      Now, with our kids, we just require their chores and home-work to be done, and they can play as much as they want. They are on spring break right now, and chores are done from yesterday, but instead of playing on the computer they are all parading around the back yard.

      Like you said, parents know their kids best. What I can’t stand is screen-time dogmas that meddlesome mothers try to impose on other families to justify their own wild-eyed anxiety-driven moral panic. Good thing THAT happens so rarely.

    2. Xeorm says:

      Issue to me always comes from treating all screens the same. Some screen time is really good for improving their imagination and exposing them to the wider world. They do need some outside playtime too, especially of the rambunctious kind. So arbitrarily limiting screen time always feels to me like a parent instituting a rule. Then they try to spread it because no one really knows how to properly raise a kid.

    3. Gordon says:

      The plumbing in Minecraft reminds me of Eco which is one of the more interesting “educational” games I’ve come across. Basically Minecraft with ecology, pollution, plumbing, power, laws, currency, government etc etc

  9. Crokus Younghand says:

    I am mostly interested in Far: Lone Sails for the interesting audio stuff that it does. No idea how it works out in the game but it sounds interesting, especially since not many developers seem to be interested in dynamic audio more complicated than fade in/fade out.

  10. ulrichomega says:

    Shamus, do you have a smart phone of any sort? I believe that Google Translate (or an equivalent) can (attempt to) translate anything you can take a picture of.

  11. John says:

    I do not limit my daughter’s screen time in the sense that I don’t have any hard and fast rules about it. In her case they aren’t really necessary. She’s only lukewarm on gaming, so if she’s using a computer it probably a creative project of some sort on her Chromebook and I’m not about to discourage that. If she’s been glued to her screen for, say, two or three hours I’ll ask her to go do something else for a while, but that’s for the sake of her eyes, not because I’m opposed in principle to whatever she’s doing or I’m afraid that she’s doing it too much.

    When I compare my daughter’s life to my own, I think that the important difference–apart from the differences in our personalities, that is–is that she is not fascinated by computers and they are not a big deal to her. As far as she’s concerned, they’ve always just been there. They can do some neat stuff, but there’s nothing unique or magical about them. I, on the other hand, can remember when my family got its very first computer. It was only an Apple IIe, but it was a revelation. I did plenty of non-computer things as a kid, but I also went through phases where I used the computer in an obsessive fashion and darn near had to be pried off it for the sake of things like food or chores.

    If I have a real objection to the concept of limiting screen time it’s that the people who advise you to set limits are following the One True Way school of parenting that has irritated and occasionally infuriated me ever since my daughter was born. Kids are all different. What works for one kid is not necessarily going to work for another. Some kids may need clear rules about how long they can use a computer, a gaming console, or a mobile device. Not all kids do. My guess is that most kids don’t.

  12. Ed Lu says:

    I was skimming through the show notes and had a chuckle when I read these two lines out of context:

    For the record, this is just what worked for our family. Every kid is different. Do what you think is right. I don’t think you’re a bad parent if you do something different.

    Here are the specs we talked about on the show: -giant list of computer part jargon-

    “Well, I don’t know what beefy gaming rig would work best for your kids, but here’s the one that worked best for mine!”

  13. krellen says:

    Shamus, since you seem to be looking for something new:

    I stumbled across the game “Dex” in my GOG library – not really sure how it got there, but I started playing it this week and it seems like something you might like. There’s a little bit of System Shock in it, and it’s pretty solid cyberpunk. Maybe you also accidentally own it already (if not, it’s fairly cheap and has a demo), so you might give it a whirl.

    1. tmtvl says:

      I’ll second that. Dex is a neat cyberpunk game, although the controls are kinda wonky in my experience (using Steam Controller), though it’s been a while since I played it. Great artstyle, decent gameplay, and passable story.

      1. krellen says:

        Using mouse and keyboard, I wouldn’t call the controls “wonky”. Not sure what control scheme it was designed for.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      Why do you do this to me? I already have too many games to play…

      1. krellen says:

        Because I am secretly out to destroy you.

    3. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Interesting you should mention it, I’ve had it for a while sitting in my backlog and I’ve been seriously considering launching it recently, I even installed it and put it in my “games to play next” folder but got distracted.

  14. tmtvl says:

    *obligatory AMD GPU fanboying because they support Open Source*

    I keep wanting to upgrade my rig, but every time I get to looking up stuff I end up thinking better of it. In a couple of years the cheap stuff will be good enough to run anything that’s around now at decent settings. I mean, hell, I’m still on an i7-6700 from way back in… early 2016-ish? Without dedicated GPU and that’s fine.

    1. John says:

      I went without a discrete GPU from approximately 2009 to 2015. It was okay. I had a Celeron rather than an i7, so I didn’t even try to play anything even slightly demanding. Nevertheless, I still found plenty to play. Older stuff, mostly, with pre-2008 games being the sweet spot. I played a lot of cheap, older games that I’d missed out on when they were new. It’s a great way to game, unless you either need to be playing new stuff for content’s sake or you’re really into multiplayer.

  15. Ninety-Three says:

    Shamus: regarding out-of-the-way iron patches and other seemingly worthless resource placements, I’ve gotten value out of those! I found a coal patch way out on the edge of the map, and was thinking to myself “Oh hell, it’s gonna take so many belts to cart this back to base,” but then I found some iron nearby. There was no way I was going to bring that iron back to base for plates, but I set up a factory way out in the boonies to process that iron and coal before shipping the much denser steel back to base on fewer belts.

    I feel like a lot of the weirdly-placed low-tier nodes have value for setting up outposts and generally decentralizing your factory.

  16. @Shamus regarding a graphics card, check this out https://gpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Nvidia-GTX-1660-vs-AMD-RX-590/4038vs4033

    The RX 590 has similar performance and price point, but it has 8GB GFX ram vs the 6GB of the 1660.
    I would not recommend getting a new GFX card today that isn’t 8GB; and I think Nvidia has made a huge mistake sticking with only 6GB. Also note how the 3GB cards by Nvidia does not have RTX support enabled (not enough memory).

    More GFX ram extends the lifespan of a card.

    Also, on the AMD front, Lisa Su might announce something at this years Computex. I’m predicting a Navi related announcement. Navi GPUs should have the same or better performance than the Radeon RX 5xx series but at same/lower cost. Navi based chips are also what’s the basis for the upcoming consoles from Microsoft and Sony as well (AFAIK) so games should run quite well on Navi GPUs.
    If a 4GB Navi GPU is made available though I’d advice against getting it, 8GB GFX memory should be the new minimum now (unless you wish to upgrade again in a year or two). A 8GB (or more) Navi alternative to Radeon RX 590 would be a good investment IMO (at that price point I mean, performance wise it’s hopefully close to the Geforce RX 2070 range).

    1. Gordon says:

      Fair disclosure I just brought the wife and I 6GB RTX 2060’s a week ago.

      I think given that the entire low to mid end of Nvidia’s range is 6GB and those cards are selling in volume, and looking at the current generation cadence, games are going to have to support those cards for the better part of the next half decade, so I’ve no concerns about longevity going 6GB.

      1. True, but you could have had 2GB extra GFX ram which might have meant better visuals, less texture loading, more even framerates even in todays games, but more so in coming games.

        The extreeme high end cards have 11GB or 16GB now. Developers will (or should) take advantage of that extra memory (less diskloading).

        Some games may not allow your to choose high res textures even though processing-wise your GPU can handle it (GTA let you disable constraint checks, but not all games do that).
        Also, Windows and Discord or whatever else you run at the same time (maybe you are live streaming?) then 2GB make be the difference between stuttering framerates and smooth framerates, as soon as the game or GFX driver starts shifting textures and data from GFX mem to System RAM you’ll see a impact on framerates etc.

  17. @Shamus regarding the youtube error screen emulating analog “snow”. Just a wild guess but wit Plasma or OLED this would avoid burn in to some extent (certainly if full screen, although there is still text there).
    Also it’s “You-tube” and “tube” is slag for “television-tube” so *shrug*.

    1. Gordon says:

      I wonder if it’s even Youtube doing it, or if it’s a Chrome thing. Isn’t most video playback basically entirely handled by the browser now?

      1. Good point, I did not test that. I guess one could peek at the source code of the page and see if YT has a custom error handling for this.
        My gut tells me this is custom as I think default errors are just a black or gray or white box with a puzzle piece and some text.

  18. “I like how they only translated the most obvious buttons and left the rest in Chinese”

    I don’t think those buttons are translated, or at least not in the way you think. There probably was no Chinese characters to express the meaning of DPI+ and – so they used English.

  19. @Paul The Windows Sonic thing is kinda like Dolby Atmos and such. Games need to support it for it to work though as Windows Sonic needs positional data from the game to place sounds in a headphone “space” (it’s HRTF based I assume).

    I found a video that does a comparison of Stereo/Sonic/Atmos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6Rb2RKFbEI
    (listen to this video using headphones, and turn off any audio processing you might be using first)

  20. Gordon says:

    On the hand crafted vs generated terrain thing. One idea I’ve been batting around is generating different feature scales at different distances. so nearby you are generating detailed terrain, further out you are generating the biome map. Some systems already do this with hierarchical generation but I haven’t seen anyone doing it with discrete features. So further out you say hey there’s going to be an adventure cave in this area, mid distance you generate the floor plan and close in you generate the detailed geometry. I was originally thinking about this as a way to avoid the artefacts Minecraft generates at chunk borders when there was a version update.

  21. Gordon says:

    On the sim distance topic. I always missed finite water in Minecraft, hydrodynamics is just such a fun and fundamental tech, water wheels, canals, dams etc etc.
    So I’ve been wondering if it could be simmed at a watershed level.
    When you generate map chunks you would push the generation out to the edge of the watershed. You need to ensure that for every chunk you need for gameplay reasons you have all chunks that might drain into it and all the chunks it drains through on the way to the ocean.
    Then in theory you could generate an abstraction of the whole watershed that would let you simulate rivers and rain and dams and stuff efficiently.

    1. Gordon says:

      I should add that the goal here was to keep the “infinite” procedural map but also bring back water modelling.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I’m a great fan of liquid (and similar) physics in games. I love it when you can flood or channel a resource and see it move around, react to the environment and so on. I do remember there was a Minecraft mod for that back in the day, although it did leave the oceans infinite and only applied to smaller bodies of water (no idea how this worked under the hood), I seem to also remember that the dev warned against using it on a massive scale because the calculations could get brutal and cause the game to crash.

  22. Liessa says:

    Regarding the Penny Arcade strip: As a kid who spent most of her time with her nose in a book, my parents did indeed try to limit my ‘paper time’. Obviously it wasn’t about disapproving of books, so much as wanting me to do something else once in a while.

    1. Gordon says:

      In my case the something else I was supposed to be doing instead of reading was sleeping. A problem that comes back every time I’m engaged in a good book. My wife and I refer to that pattern of sleep disruption as “I’m the on the book”, somewhat similar to “I’m on drugs”. Our gracious host can be blamed for the last bout of “on the book”, “The other kind of life” was an engaging read :)

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