Diecast #270: The Great Mailbag Deluge

By Shamus Posted Monday Aug 19, 2019

Filed under: Diecast 167 comments

I don’t know how the mailbag got so out of control, but Paul and I did our best to put a dent in it. Here we answer 10 questions in one show.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac. Also featuring Local Forecast by Kevin MacLeod.

Show notes:
00:26 Rebel Galaxy Outlaw: the “Thanks, I Hate it” Edition

03:06 Epic Game Store Fail No Preload for Borderlands 3

For the record, this is about how Epic’s lack of features means the platform isn’t really ready for a huge AAA release like Borderlands 3, and not about the class action lawsuit over a data breach, breaking their own rules regarding their cash shop items, or their recent PR gaffes. I know all this bad Epic news starts to blur together after a while, so it’s important to make it clear that this is a new controversy and not one of the old ones.

Link (YouTube)

06:26 Mailbag: Updates that ruined games.

Dear Diecast,

we all know a lot of updates make games better. But the opposite can also happen. Have you guys ever gone from liking a game to disliking it after an update?



09:20 Mailbag: VR Desktop

Dear Diecast,

it’s not really gaming related, but have you seen the announcement of Valve’s xrdesktop project?

Basically they’re bringing traditional Desktop Environments to VR. It seems really cool.

Related link



13:39 Mailbag: Streaming MMO

Dear Diecast:

I am of the opinion that video game streaming is a boondoggle for
reasons both already covered by Shamus and not super relevant to the question. However, I feel there is one use case where it’s actually not too bad: massively multiplayer games, or other games that are online only anyway. This is how Phantasy Star Online 2 works on the Switch in Japan, for instance (and probably how it will work over here): you need a good steady connection to the server anyway, so it doesn’t matter too much if the client is on their system instead of ours.

Some of World of Warcraft’s success could be traced to “any potato can run it,” and while that’s not as big a deal now, do you think it’s something worth considering for future MMOs going forward?

— MechaCrash

18:07 Mailbag: Metro Exodus

Hey Shamus, I remember at one point you briefly talked about starting Metro Exodus on the podcast. Having just finished the game myself, I was curious if you had any more thoughts on it.


20:33 Mailbag: Unexpected Gameplay Modes

Dear Diecast

I was recently playing through Fallout 4’s Far Harbor DLC. In order to progress the critical path you are forced to play through a weird unexpected gameplay shift where instead of shooting bad guys or talking to NPCs you have to play a light re-directing puzzle using the game’s building mechanics. I found this to be out of place, it ground the pacing to a halt and it really ruined my enjoyment of the game.

However it got me thinking: What are your favourite and least favuorite unexpected gameplay changes in games?


26:41 Mailbag: Stop Normalizing Nazis

Dear Cube Tossers,

A recent Extra Credits video got a 15K likes and 228K dislikes. It’s about Nazis in video games, and how we “[shouldn’t] treat Nazis and terrorists like they are just one of several morally equivalent character skins for players to try on.”

What are your thoughts on this?

Best regards,

Like I said on the show, let’s not heap too much additional hate on Extra Credits. This is the video in question. It’s got nearly a million views, which is more than 10 times the views the show has been getting lately. It has a 94% disapproval rating and the comments are an endless scroll of criticism. I think this bad premise has been thoroughly argued against by the community, and I imagine the EC crew gets the idea by now.

For the record, I’m actually acquaintances with some of the channel contributors. I think the criticism is well-earned, but it still makes me wince. I haven’t watched the show in years, but I really respect a lot of their early work. Former narrator DanDo you remember when the show used to pitch-shift the narrator’s voice up? That was Dan. has a fantastic channel where he covers animations in games.

32:51 Mailbag: Kingdom Come Deliverance


So, I’ve just finished Kingdom Come Deliverance. If you not familiar with the game, its an open-world RPG somewhere between TES and The Witcher 3 (with some interesting own ideas) about medieval Bohemia.

I.e. its a purely historical setting, with no fantasy elements. So, by the end of the main story, I started to think more and more, that protagonist, former peasant Henry, is so easily taking very risky missions, which a normal person would never take willingly. The only explanation for such unreasonable risky behavior, that traumatic events of the prologue left Henry with a some kind of PTSD and he become an adrenaline junkie. I guess, that also explains, why Henry, in my playthrough, is also taking missions to steal all the valuable things even if money isn’t the issue for him

But that got me thinking. In other RPGs, or games in general, I never assume that heroes are adrenaline junkies. They just do dangerous missions, because they are just that cool. Say, Sheppard or Adam Jensen are such a pros, we as players don’t notice how close to the edge they actually are. Infiltrating a military base alone where any mistake will likely result in your death? If it was a real life, Jensen would likely try to think of ways to avoid this as much as possible. I’m now trying to imagine, what if we move Jensen to, say, being spy in WW1, would it be more obvious how dangerous his missions and his approach of solving problem alone are really are?

I think, this disconnect, is likely, explainable by how serious setting of KCD is (no magic, we’re infiltrating / fighting well armed bandits and such) and how meek looking Henry himself (plus that I decided to play on hardcore with all negative perks, which added to the element of danger). I’m pretty sure, that this is accidental in KCD. But still, that’s an interesting thing (recklessness caused by trauma), that I kinda want to see more in games or stories in general and explored deeply.

Do you think, that the amount of fantastical elements in a setting could result in seeing same actions of the same character in a drastically different light? But then, if I take Commando and Predator, the latter one is more fantastical, but Arnold is in real danger there… Its probably something else is contributing to this…

Best regards, DeadlyDark

38:26 Mailbag: Strange Technology Fails

Dearest Diecast.

Through no effort of my own, my music app has decided to use the picture of a robot girl (Aigis from Persona 3) as the album picture of the Diecast. I assume this happened because they both reside in my downloads folder, but I have no idea why just that picture was picked and why the app was so adamant on giving the Diecast an album image in the first place.

Do you have any stories to share about harmless but endlessly baffling technology mishaps that you just can’t explain?


41:31 Mailbag: Toxic Customers

Dear people, who like large numbers on physical objects,
I get the distinct feeling that the customers in the games market are the most unpleasant ones out there. The unpleasantness does not seem to be certain demographic groups.
There are horror story about the abuse of retail workers out there. In my experience customers in games seem to be far worse. I might be biased given that I had to do with a lot of major unpleasantness (murder threats and verbal abuse on a daily basis).
This behaviour does not seem to exist in a B2B context. There the customers are demanding at most but mostly friendly.
Any ideas on why this might be that way? Do you have any stories?


I know a lot of you read the show notes without listening to the show. That’s fine. But please, if you haven’t listened to the show then maybe consider giving this topic a pass for now. This is a hot-button issue and on the show I did my best to present it in such a way as to minimize enragement. I’m worried some people will see the topic and come out swinging, and that won’t do anyone any good.

53:40 Mailbag: OC Remix

Dear Shamus and friends,
OCRemix has some very interesting remixes of video games music in a variety of styles.
Are there any you personally like or some that you would like to hear?

More greetings,

As promised, here are Paul’s Remix Loops



[1] Do you remember when the show used to pitch-shift the narrator’s voice up? That was Dan.

From The Archives:

167 thoughts on “Diecast #270: The Great Mailbag Deluge

  1. Grimwear says:

    In regards to streaming mmos I personally hope it never comes to pass. I don’t see how it will work well. People always bring up the argument about how there are many people in the rural United States and they have bad internet but I live in a huge city of 1.3 million people, pay a ridiculous 80 dollars a month for internet (they recently added fibre but i refuse to pay 150 dollars a month for it), and get what I would consider average internet. Maybe everyone has a direct connection but I use wi-fi. I always thought this was a common occurrence, particularly with the rise in the number of devices being in a home. I have no issues watching youtube and my download speeds are relatively fast but it’s rare for me to be able to play any online game. I have no problem with WoW or Guild Wars but if I want to play Pubg or Rainbow Six Siege I need to go and plug in or my rubber banding makes it unplayable. There’s no way I can be the only one who’s afflicted with this and just the added issue of needing to stream the game immediately makes it a no go for me.

    1. kunedog says:

      20 years ago, the worst DRM dystopia anyone could imagine was still better than one in which your entire game library literally vanishes as soon as (and I do mean the same second) someone tells the DRM server to stop responding. That is the reality for every streamed game of any genre.

      The same (reposted) rant applies to every new game streaming service because they all face the same horrible problems and have the same ulterior motive:

      Imagine if the old Ubisoft always-on DRM were an inherent, unremoveable aspect of the game system rather than just something tacked on to a few individual games after the fact, such that Ubisoft couldn’t even begrudgingly neuter it in a patch. Well, a streamed game is even worse than that would be.

      The game doesn’t even run locally. All you get is streaming video/audio and all the lag you’d expect (including controller lag), which is a recipe for disaster in North America. And any interruption in the connection that lasts more than a few tenths of a second is going to behave like the equivalent of a “freeze” or “hang” that you’d NEVER tolerate in a properly local-hosted game. Not even the most twitchy DRM existing today has that problem.

      Some people consider IPS monitors unsuitable for games requiring fast reflexes (i.e. FPSes) due to their double-digit response times. Internet latency is often worse and certainly more unpredictable than LCD monitor response time, and with streamed games it applies to audio and keyboard/controller/etc input too.

      Then there are the bandwidth requirements.

      Let’s say you’re lucky enough to have a 100mb/s connection. Why would you want to use it to transfer your game’s video instead of, uh, a DVI cable, which is capable of 4 Gb/s? The people who developed DVI apparently understood that that 1920 x 1200 pixels w/ 24 bits/pixels @ 60Hz results in bandwidth well over 3 Gb/s. The people who developed streamed games seem very, very confused (at best).

      Those of us who know anything about bandwidth and compression and (especially) latency can see the enormous technical obstacles facing a service like this, and startups like Onlive never did anything to explain how they intended to solve them. Instead, they did everything they could to lock out independent reviewers with NDAs and closed demonstrations. A friend of mine described it as the gaming equivalent of the perpetual motion scam, and IMO that’s spot on (except that a streamed game service would still have the draconian DRM issues even if it worked perfectly).

      Streamed games appear designed from the ground up to benefit the game publishers and fuck the customers, exactly what you’d expect from any DRM system.

      P.S. Remember when Microsoft intended 24-hour XBox One check-ins, and gamers rejected that? How the fuck are mandatory check ins going to fly when measured in milliseconds?

    2. Daimbert says:

      I think that people have gotten too much into the mindset of “We have lots of bandwidth!” that they’ve forgotten that that bandwidth is being shared by more and more things. The whole 5G thing is talking about having all your appliances and everything in the house hooked up to the Internet, sharing that with your streaming TV, your phone, your downloads and now your streaming games. It’s not going to take too long for a number of bandwidth-intensive apps to take up so much of your bandwidth that you have no room for anything else, and for them to interfere with each other. And if even I want to use multiple apps at the same time in my household despite only being one person, how much worse will it be when it’s an entire family that has to balance it?

  2. kunedog says:

    I think this bad premise has been thoroughly argued against by the community, and I imagine the EC crew gets the idea by now.

    I’m going to strongly disagree, because I have to assume you’ve seen their community manager’s follow-up responses. They are arguably much worse than even the Ooblet devs’:

    I don’t think enough people seem to understand that (1) we fully expect this to happen every time we’ve uploaded a “games are political” video and that (2) we love losing all the bigoted subscribers. Are you kidding me? Less bigotry is great! Dislikes are still engagement!


    Oh we try our best, just to lose all the bigoted subscribers who somehow didn’t drop off at tany number of the earlier “gamers are political” episodes.

    1. Shamus says:

      I’m always uneasy when I see some text that’s been screenshotted and removed from context. I get that this makes it easier to share / embed, but there’s always a risk that the isolated message can be cropped to mislead.

      Yes, it looks like this person is saying that “Everyone who disagrees with our video is a bigot.” But I’d like to see those messages in context.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        They were tweets from the EC community manager. One was deleted, screenshot, archive with context, the other is still live. They really are as bad as they look.

        1. Shamus says:

          It’s heartbreaking, but at least now I can see what was said. Thanks for the context!

          Like you mentioned in another comment, this channel started so strong. Their “games are art” opening STILL speaks to me today, and is just as relevant now as it was then. It’s a shame the channel seems to have lost its way. Setting aside this Very Special Episode of controversy, their recent content just hasn’t the same bite.

          1. Lino says:

            EC was the channel that helped me appreciate games in a new light, just as I was growing up and starting to see how profound and life-changing art can be. Their videos lead me to the Escapist, which in turn lead me to you.
            For a long time, to me, they were the smartest show in gaming – they had deep analysis you couldn’t find anywhere else, and very insightful and to-the-point arguments.
            But after a time, they stopped being as insightful, and soon they had absolutely nothing interesting to say. I continued following them out of habit, in vain hopes that the old magic would spring up again. I stopped watching their videos entirely after they ineptly tried to make the case for lootboxes. To me, the Nazi video is just a new low, the proverbial dig after reaching the bottom.

            1. Daimbert says:

              Yeah, I did a long commentary on their lootbox defense, as it was pretty bad and never really seemed to grasp what the arguments were about . I also think I ended up waiting for a third video to actually make the case that they never made.

              1. Lino says:

                Yes, I remember you and Shamus having very good responses.

            2. OPG says:

              honestly I feel the same way. I watched all their shit throughout high school, but around the time I graduated they weren’t saying anything profound to me anymore. I still thought they served an important function in evangelizing game design discussions (not sure how much that needs evangelizing anymore), but their introductory-level videos weren’t really for me anymore

              and this video was just bad rhetoric. it’s only function is to virtue-signal and make them feel good for being good; it doesn’t add anything worthwhile to the dialogue and certainly won’t change anybody’s mind.

        2. Daimbert says:

          I will note that the ExtraCredits account itself is more in line with their original response. At a minimum, that official account is doing decent PR work.

  3. Joe says:

    I can’t think of any unexpected gameplay shifts that I liked. Especially puzzle-based ones. If I wanted to play a puzzle game, I would. But that’s never going to happen. Please keep puzzles out of my loot’em’up games. This is why I never liked Tiny Tina’s expansion for BL2. Also, I didn’t care about the plot. All I wanted was more shooting. That expansion gave me *less* shooting than was expected.

    As for the guy in the doughnut shop, maybe he did come in for a bagel. But something happened to set him off. Sometimes the frustrations of the world build up, the actual trigger was probably something petty. But it was just the wrong thing at the wrong time. That’s what it’s like for me at least. Maybe he needs help instead of being reviled.

    Finally, Shamus, I remember you said you planned to stream some Witcher 3 after Bob finished his series. I think the time is ripe. :)

  4. Chris says:

    I’m totally down for Shamus playing frog fractions and making a post about it. Its not too long a game and would be exciting for next week.

  5. LBW995 says:

    I’m surprised Shamus mentioned Half-Life 2, but not the Orangebox update in 2010 that broke a lot of stuff.

    Basically it upgraded HL2 and EP1 to the latest 2007 build of the engine (used in Episode 2 and the other new Orange Box games.)

    It came with broken scripts, skyboxes, animations and a few other issues relating to stability and such. I believe even the Spoiler Warning season of HL2 came across a few bugs (like the Combine Elites not showing up at the end of Nova Prospekt during the teleporter sequence)

    It took like 6 years, until the SteamPipe update a few years ago until Valve bothered trying to fix these issues

  6. Chad Miller says:

    Re: Patches that ruined a game – I was into Magic: The Gathering Arena for, like, two months. Then they made grand sweeping changes to their tournament structure. In particular, they added matchmaking to drafting. That on the surface may sound like a good thing, but it now means that simultaneously:

    * Drafts are pay-to-play
    * Prize payouts are based on number of wins
    * Matchmaking pushes all long-term winrates toward 50/50

    You can argue about the merits of these individually, but I feel pretty strongly that you can’t have all three of those. Strongly enough that I uninstalled less than a week later. Funnily enough, I had earlier written a somewhat popular FAQ on the game and people occasionally send me questions about it. To which the response is always “idk, I quit.”

  7. Gordon says:

    Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is Privateer remastered.

    Different story different universe. But mechanics wise it’s a direct modernization of Privateer. There’s almost a 1:1 mapping between like everything.

    1. Geebs says:

      Yeah, I’d love to give it a try – Privateer was fantastic back in the day, but it’s really hard to go back to now. The new Rogue Galaxy actually seems closer to the first Privateer than any of the 3D Wing Commander games were to the originals.

      Not sure about the auto-following combat system though. Hopefully you can turn that stuff off.

      1. Lino says:

        I haven’t played it, but I know you can turn off aim assist (as far as I understand it, that’s the dot that stays in front of the enemy and tells you where you need to fire), so that probably means you can turn off auto-follow, too.

      2. John says:

        According to the developer gameplay demo on Youtube, you can turn of auto-follow. It’s intended to make the game more accessible and easier to play on a gamepad, but it’s optional.

      3. Gordon says:

        You can turn all that stuff off although frankly I wouldn’t, I don’t miss chasing dots on the radar one little bit. But for those who do miss it there’s even a hardcore option where you start with a radar that doesn’t do target locking or FoF colouring, just like Privateer.
        Also that’s like the only stuff where they’ve innovated instead of remastering, oh and bar games, you can play moderately realistic pool.
        The missions, the ships, the equipment, the way the story runs through conversations in the bar, the progression arc, all exactly the same. Hell I want to boot up privateer and check if I’m right in thinking the in station menu structure is Exactly the same.
        And I’m loving it all.

    2. John says:

      This, exactly. A copy of the fancy CD version of Privateer came bundled with our family’s first Windows PC. I adored it then. I bought it again from GOG and even played it to completion. I still kinda liked it. But I don’t think I’m ever going back again. I can’t take the 320×240 graphics any more. (Not on my big-screen TV, anyway. I might have to try it on my 11 inch laptop and see if that makes a difference.) I can’t take the blotchy sprite-ships. I can’t take the terrible flight model. Almost everything I’ve seen in the gameplay demos for Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is exactly Privateer except good. This is what I want, please. I’d be filled with joy if Outlaw only had a Linux version or else were available from a store that had even rudimentary Linux support.

      The game that Paul appears to want is Star Citizen, which, well, good luck with that. It might get released eventually, it might have most of the features Chris Roberts has been promising for years, and it might even run well on computers owned by mere mortals. Maybe. I’m not saying it’s impossible. The latest demos are supposedly big improvements, or so I hear. But I’m not holding my breath. Or buying any virtual ships.

      The funny thing about Star Citizen is that, back when Roberts first pitched it, a lot of people thought that it was going to be Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, more or less, and they were thrilled. Maybe that was even Roberts’ intention, once upon a time before he was showered with all the money in the world and given the freedom to indulge his worst instincts. In any case, I like to think that Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is Star Citizen done right, i.e., Star Citizen done by people who know how to manage scope, feature creep, and a budget and actually ship games.

  8. Ninety-Three says:

    Re: Extra Credits, whether or not they’re out of things to say, the Nazis video seems less like “Crap, we don’t have anything this week” and more like a political screed because someone realized that they could use their gaming channel as a platform for political screeds. This seems consistent with their handling of the criticism which sums up to “Actually political screeds are good and you’re a bad person if you disagree with our screed or our stance on screeds”.

    I’m going to pivot away from politics now and make a different criticism of Extra credits. In the very first episode of Extra Credits, they had some high-minded stuff about how if videogames are going to be Real Serious Art, we need to take off the kid gloves, stop grading them on a curve, and don’t praise mediocre storytelling just because it exists in a sea of garbage. Not only was this their opinion, it was their mission statement. This spoke to me as someone who held the opinion that there were four, maybe five videogames with Actually Good stories (these days it’s up to six or seven).

    I stopped following them years ago so I don’t remember when it happened, but they definitely abandoned that mission statement. It’s hard to criticize them for falling into the “I enjoyed this game let’s praise it” default mode of videogame discourse, but damnit they were the only people who seemed to get that “games are art” is incompatible with grading on a curve, and then they threw it away.

    1. Daimbert says:

      They were doing more politicized posts for a while now — that’s the reason for the “We always get this when we talk about how games are political” response — but after Dan left that actually tailed off a bit. However, it seemed to tail off into them not really saying anything, until this really bad video. They actually had a decent if somewhat trivial point that it would be a good idea to allow people to choose whether they want to join the “bad guy” side instead of matching the multiplayer randomly, but when the video grumbled that people who were willing to play that side might be able to play more matches and that something would have to be done there it became clear that their actual goal was to not have that in the game rather than just ensuring that people who would be bothered by that weren’t forced to.

    2. Lino says:

      Yup, that totally sums up my opinion on the Nazi video as well. With regards to their mission statement – when I was following them, they still payed lip service to it from time to time, but now they’re so far removed from that idea that I don’t think anyone even notices it anymore.
      Also, I’ve never seen the word “screed” before! Thanks! Apparently, it comes from the Middle English word for strip of cloth, or fragment! Fascinating! If you don’t mind me asking, are you British? It sounds like a thing British people would use…

      1. Ninety-Three says:


        1. Lino says:

          Fascinating! I wonder if it’s a leftover from before the 20th century, since it’s a very old word. What’s more interesting to me is that this word doesn’t come from French like a lot of words in English do. It’s always interesting to me how little apparent impact French has had on the English people speak in Canada. As far as I know, you learn it in school, but there are people born in Canada (whose parents were also born there) who don’t speak or understand French.
          I guess there are just parts of Canada where the French influence isn’t all that strong (which is still weird to me, since it’s an official language, and those people still see it in their IDs and other documents, alongside the English text).

    3. Daniil says:

      May I ask what those 6-7 good stories were?

      1. Daimbert says:

        I was curious about that myself, considering that I could find the 4 – 5 in two series …

      2. Syal says:

        I’m going to take a guess.

        1: D2
        2: Pac-Man 2 The New Adventures
        3: Bubsy 3D
        4: Shadows of Destiny
        5: Illbleed
        6: Barbie Horse Adventures
        7: Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney

        1. tmtvl says:

          Barbie Horse Adventures? Everyone knows Magic of the Pegasus is the superior Barbie game.

  9. Matt` says:

    Dan Floyd is one of my favourite things on YouTube right now; he and Carrie are just so relentlessly positive about things, the wholesome is infectious.

    Dropped Extra Credits from my subscriptions a while back though – just didn’t take to the new narrator, and then some really basic factual errors when they did an Extra History series on quantum mechanics left me questioning whether I could trust them on topics I don’t already independently know things about (ala Gell-Mann Amnesia)

    I remain curious about why it was that Dan left the channel. Hope it wasn’t some unpleasant rupture, but I get the sense that it might have been.

    1. Hector says:

      Tell us about Gell-Mann Amnesia!

      1. Ancillary says:

        Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
        In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

        – Michael Crichton

        1. Hector says:

          Gotcha – I recognize the idea, if not the name.

          This may be why I’m so often suspicious of journalists of any kinds these days – too many stories where they’re leaving off pertinent details. FWIW I listen almost entirely to Extra History instead of the Extra Credits proper, because EH is still pretty good. It’s not an academic-level discussion of the full story, but they’re limited to relatively sort episodes so I think that’s a fair compromise. In exchange, of course, they do more shows and cover a variety of topics, including things that I had never heard about. And I’m much more read up on history than most.

    2. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      Put me in this category. I loved them at first. Sometime, maybe around season 4 or 5, I don’t know -I just stopped being interested in what they had to say. I kept listening to the Extra History episodes, but since they kept talking about topics I knew about (especially the American Founding episodes), I also knew that the episodes were, at best, “conventional wisdom” on the topic. Which is to say -they did enough research to not sound like idiots, but I was still beating my head against a wall going “that isn’t what that means!”

      And then they did the politics and government as a game videos and I had to stop watching. Oh my God, did they talk to a single activist, elected official, bureaucrat, or campaign worker when they made those videos?

      I like Dan, and wish he did more -and one of the reasons I like him is because he does normally stick to his area of expertise. I can hear it in his voice, the way he talks about animation. He clearly knows his stuff, and also has a passion for it he wants to share.

      As for this particular episode -I mean, I didn’t find it markedly worse than the usual schlock. I did listen to it and think of GK Chesterton’s response to those who wanted to ban children’s books with violence in them: Children don’t read books to learn that dragons exist. They already know that dragons exist. They read books to learn that dragons can be slain.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        And then they did the politics and government as a game videos and I had to stop watching.

        That was also the video that made me quit. It wasn’t even political in the “Go team blue!” sense, it was just so painfully naive, like the game design version of the xkcd engineer strip.

        1. Olivier FAURE says:

          I don’t really remember the politics videos, but nothing in there seemed especially shocking or dumb to me.

          What did they say that was naive?

          1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            It is a sign of my devotion to this forum that I am rewatching the video to remind myself.

            Oh, yeah. Now I remember. So they started with the bit about points -how some votes are gimmes and some votes are marginal. Now, they are feeling around an actual concept here of the marginal (and in most analyses of this type, we’d also call them the Median) voter. But the thing is that political coalitions are inherently unstable. The nature of politics is that it is basically impossible to keep everyone happy all the time -so the marginal voter is a moving target. That target is also often the least politically engaged voter (the informed voters already made their decision and that’s why they are gimmes). That’s why so much of politics revolves around name ID, and why incumbents have a much easier time winning. The idea of directing your attention to the marginal voter and trying to cater to their needs is startlingly naive. Campaigns wish the marginal voters were paying that much attention. Instead, your major goal is: get people to recognize your name (famously, the third party that governed CT for a few years in the 90s named itself A Connecticut Party so that it would be listed first on the ballot), and maintain your own existing coalition so those gimmes don’t just stay home.

            In the next section they discuss the idea that politics in the US is mostly about winning elections -which is a position that a lot of people hold, but is -in fact -disputed. I talk about it in my class as the Battle of the Davids -with David Mayhew arguing in favor of the position, and David Rhode arguing that actual governing drives political behavior. A lot of retirements, for example, can be explained as “yes, I could win the election, but there won’t be a coalition that will advance my goals, so being in Congress won’t actually be fun, so I’m not going to run for re-election.” That could be because you don’t expect your party to have a majority in the new Congress, or because your particular faction is in decline.

            Also, the idea that lobbyists exercise control via campaign contributions has basically no empirical support. Lobbyists exercise control via access to information. Writing laws is complicated, and lobbyists have a lot of experience -so of course they have model laws already written whenever an issue comes up.

            Bribing politicians -directly or via campaign contributions -is for amateurs. Professionals have much better methods.

            Their discussion of actions at the end is also basically a joke -deliberately growing a “circle” in the course of a campaign is considered impossible. You can increase issue saliance (how much people care), but the number who care doesn’t shift that quickly. Assuming that refugee fears mattered, Trump’s decision was to recognize the changing ground and hammer on it -not to to make more people care about refugee fears. Wet streets cause rain. Elected officials wish that addressing the concerns of specific voters got their votes (and that’s assuming you can do it without so obviously pandering that you insult the voters -which is a semi-common problem).

            Again -it isn’t that anything they are saying is wrong, exactly, it’s that they are trampling over far more complicated territory giving the conventional wisdom on the topic -which the actual experts, either academics or practitioners, will tell you is misreading the environment.

            1. Steve C says:

              I remember that politics video too. I agree with you- it was badly done and naive. I cannot agree with most of what you wrote for the same reason I disagreed with Extra Credits.

              The world is a wide place with many western style democracies. If what Extra Credits (or yourself) argued was true about politics in a factual academic sense then it would be true outside of the USA as easily as it was inside. Except it isn’t true outside the USA. Both EC and yourself cannot see personal biases for the reasons things happen the way they do because you are immersed in that system.

              1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                The EC video is about American politics. I am discussing American politics. I am well aware that American politics is different from the rest of the world. The EC video us an even worse description of English or Swedish politics than it is US politics.

                1. Steve C says:

                  It is not different though. Not in the way that Extra Credits approached the video. You think that other democracies don’t have marginal voters? That the USA is the only ones with lobbyists? That incumbents in other countries are unknown?

                  The Extra Credits video did not attempt to be about US politics specifically. It attempted to be about Politic Science in a more general way. It did a terrible job. It used unique outcomes to US politics in a general “this is way all democracies work.” Then attempted to bend logic around that false hypothesis. All the while ignoring there are actual solutions to these supposedly intractable problems.

            2. Olivier FAURE says:

              Thanks for the detailed answer!

              Can you explain the “arguing that actual governing drives political behavior” part? Even if elected politicians are limited by the agenda of their coalition, since every other member of the coalition is also elected, wouldn’t its agenda be (coarsely) driven by the results of elections?

              1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                Mayhew’s -which is the dominant view, I think -view is that elections are basically candidate centered, and candidates do what they can to maximize their chance at re-election. Holding office is the point, not doing anything with it. Gaining seniority is its own reward, chairmanships are their own reward. Policy is basically driven by re-election concerns. There’s a lot of evidence for this in the 1970s-1990s (not coincidentally when Mayhew wrote Congress: The Electoral Connection, originally written in 1974). The main evidence for this is that Congress was dominated by leadership, whose actions seemed to consist mostly in protecting their members from difficult votes.

                Rohde’s argument is that what was actually going on was that the Democratic Southern members were the chairs of the committees, and they didn’t want to do much because, while they had been New Dealers, and early on had been Great Society Supporters, they weren’t really that fond of Civil Rights -and were basically sitting on their hands. A bunch of them retired or lost re-election and were replaced by Republicans in their districts, and by more progressive Democrats in the caucus -both of whom were far more interested in specific agenda items. This explains the parties beginning to primary their own people who were viewed as not sufficiently on board with the agenda, the rise of party platforms (the Contract with America in 1994), and the ObamaCare vote, which Democrats did knowing it would absolutely lead to a bunch of them losing re-election. The point is -the parties became willing to take actions that they knew would cost them votes (possibly even reelection) to attain certain political ends. Electoral and governing outcomes are not necessarily the same and some actors are willing to lose re-election rather than vote strategically. There are counter critiques of this which I won’t get into.

                The way I discuss it is to say that, in the US, parties make their coalitions before the elections. The candidates who choose to run make that choice based on a bundle of intra-party compromises. If the party wins a majority, the rough outline of the compromises is already worked out -so the public indirectly votes for specific policy choices -often voted on in the first 100 days of the new Congress (FDR did that in the New Deal and it became a thing). This is different from parliamentary systems, where the parties do not make compromises in advance of the election -but once elected, form a coalition. So voters are voting for ideal policies, and find out the actual policy compromises after the election.

                Again, my irritation isn’t that the theories they are discussing are wrong -it’s that they seem blithely unaware that there are competing theories they are completely ignorant of.

                1. CrushU says:

                  “it’s that they seem blithely unaware that there are competing theories they are completely ignorant of.”

                  I’m rather certain they don’t have time to present competing theories as the one they did present was a general/simplistic overview anyway…

            3. CrushU says:

              I’m curious what you think of CGP Grey’s Rules for Rulers…

    3. Narkis says:

      I don’t remember all the details, but iirc his leaving was related to James, the writer, harassing his ex-girlfriend who worked at Extra Credits at the time. And Dan wasn’t the only one who left at that period.

      1. Hector says:

        I have no inside information, but I think a better bet is that it’s a pretty tough and time-consuming job that doesn’t pay that well, so there was (still is), a fair amount of turnover.

    4. Higher_Peanut says:

      Sorry to say it was an entirely unpleasant rupture aired throughout social media. I hadn’t watched Extra Credits for a long time and I went looking for what happened to explain the video. There’s a link buried in the youtube comments to a reddit discussion of what happened. I won’t go looking for it again to post it here, it’s just unpleasant.

  10. Hector says:

    Shamus, can you put the podcast on a third-party site in some way? I can’t use this site’s podcast during the day, basically.

    Edit: To clarify, it’s not a technical issue. I can’t connect to any gaming site, even news, while working.

  11. Joshua says:

    “Teleport Mazes”. My memory of Eye of the Beholder is pretty faint, so I don’t remember that part at all. I do, however, remember the obnoxious Teleport/Spin/Darkness puzzles of Bard’s Tale II, which is probably one reason why I’ve never finished that game.

    As far as updates that diminished your enjoyment of a game, I think you’d get a lot of discussion material from a variety of MMOs. So much so that you would probably have to re-frame the question to be non-multiplayer games only.

    1. Veylon says:

      There was a teleport maze in the first Bard’s Tale as well, at least on the NES version. The worst part was, you didn’t even know you were teleported. No flash, no sound, and the area in the minimap was identical. I had to do some detective work to figure out why I kept screwing up my hand-drawn map of the area. I felt pretty clever as a kid when I finally deduced what was going on.

  12. DeadlyDark says:

    Kingdom Come Deliverance is quite good and I enjoyed my time there a lot, and I would be curious to see his take on the game. There are flaws in there, and the game still works. But I feel that the game is outside of Shamus’ tastes, a little (just a feeling, may be I’m wrong)

    When I visited OCRemix site years ago and wished there were more of pc classics there (since I’m not really interested in Mario/Megaman/Zelda mixes, since I never played them). There were some, but I expected a lot more of tracks for Unreal (with or without Tournament), Shocks or something like that.

    Since then, at least I’ve got from there the albums for Doom and Deus Ex (Sonic Augmentation), so that’s a consolation prize at least.

    As for wishes, I’d be curious to see how one could mix Thief ambients in unexpected ways. Original Fallouts and Planescape Torment tunes should be interesting as well. Command and Conquer games, of course!

    P.S. Great mix for Unreal Tournament’s Razorback – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKLNaO2GfC8

    1. Lino says:

      I remember KCD having a lot of bugs when it first came out which is why I didn’t buy it (that and the fact that I want to upgrade my machine before I decide to jump into it). I wonder – is it any better now? If it’s still got some rough edges, how does it compare to Skyrim when it comes to bugs?

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Yeah, that’s why I waited this long.

        Now, it feels roughly the same? I mean, it still has some wooden feeling in it (couple of times people stuck in doors or such), but nothing gamebraking. I think, New Vegas (with all patches and Saywer mod) left me with similar impressions.

        I think, its pretty good now polish-wise. Just don’t go for hardcore mode. I wanted to do it, since I wanted to frustrate myself a little (just to remind, how it feels). Some turned off features on their own (like disabled compass and map markers) – yeah, I love it, but with stricter save system and somnambulist negative perk (where you can wake up in a random place nearby, like in the middle of the forest), it results in sometimes really… unfunny situations

        1. Hector says:

          I plays KC:D. I’m a huge history nerd, and I *adore* this game. Not perfect but very good, the bugs have been almost entirely fixed, and the result is a game that feels like Skyrim but far more real. These are real places and quite a few of the people you meet are real historical figures.

          1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            I just got past the duel with Runt (which glitched, so while the final cutscene played with Henry and Runt talking, Runt was also in the background shadow-dueling). I really love the commitment to realism. I really dislike the the way a lot of the quests railroad you. The witches quest, the drinking binge with the priest. I’m mostly willing to give it a pass for “realism,” but I still only play the game in spurts.

            I think they have it in mind that the game should be a roguelike, when it is really more of an RPG. And the realism and fiddliness of the controls (oh, lockpicking, how I hate you) mixed with limited saving and no autosaves makes the game super, super frustrating in ways it doesn’t need to be.

            On the question that spurred this -I don’t know that Henry’s behavior needs to be explained by PTSD or anything of the sort. Spoiler: he’s the illegitimate son of a noble, and as such has been raised partly by that noble. That noble helped him learn to fight with a sword, and he’s undoubtedly been inculcated with some of the warrior ethos of the era. He’s not an adrenaline junkie -he’s impetuous. Radzig, Divish, and Hanush spend a lot of time trying to impress on Henry that his desire to fight is good, but his method of going about doing so is wrong.

            Basically, Henry’s behavior is explainable by the era and circumstances in which he lived -which is a big part of the game, and something I like about it. The past is a different place.

            1. Hector says:

              Also, no one really discusses this, but he has no better options than to try his luck on the road. His fellow townsmen are begging in the streets. So taking wild risks might look pretty attractive.

            2. Henson says:

              For future reference, it’s better if you put spoilers in strike tags so people don’t accidentally read them.

              1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                There used to be instructions for how to do that, but there aren’t anymore. What’s the tag here?

                1. Lino says:

                  You can still see the instructions if you scroll to the bottom of the page. For the record, it’s “strike”.

  13. DeadlyDark says:

    Patches that ruined the game, seems more prevalent with MMOs. At least, that’s the impression I’ve got, after listening to NerdSlayer’s Death of the Game series. Controversial updates for SWG, or underwhelming story updates for SWTOR (while simplifying the gameplay), etc

    1. Chris says:

      It can also happen with other online games. Like balance changes that simplify the game or remove an option that some people really like.

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Yeah. I’d add a new poorly balanced hero here as well

        1. Lino says:

          Which applies to most new heroes in Free-to-Play games, especially the ones where they have a hero rotation and you’re encouraged to buy heroes for real money. A lot of times, the new hero is deliberately overpowered in order to encourage purchases.

    2. Steve C says:

      Shamus, I’m surprised that you can’t think of any games ruined by updates and patches. There’s so many I’ve lost count. I generally avoid it now by disabling all updates.

      The most recent one I can remember is Battletech. I was a few hours from the end of the campaign and a major patch came down the pipe. A patch that meant that I was going to have to rework all my mechs. It looked to be a good overall balance patch too. I’d be happy to install it at the start of my next campaign. But no f’ing way I wanted to change what I already knew when I was that close to the end. I would quit the game instead. Luckily my policy of *no auto updates ever* saved me from having to do that.

      Yeah MMOs can be killed easily by bad patches. The fact that I cannot disable patches in online games is a big problem for me and why I tend to avoid them. For example I disliked a lot of the design principles introduced in WoW: Cataclysm. Then they doubled down on the things I hated for the panda Panda expansion and I unsubbed right there. I had a friend who felt the same way about Burning Crusade and left in disgust. I have to keep making that decision with Warframe.

      The first update that wrecked a game for me I think was actually for a card game- Magic: The Gathering. I started playing back in the era of Moxes and Black Lotuses. I could accept that certain sets and cards weren’t balanced and needed to be restricted. However they then pushed a set that didn’t have those problems out of the current tournament legal rules. I realized that this was WotC real strategy- a treadmill that the oldest cards were going to continuously fall off of. I sold my entire collection for less than I paid and don’t regret it.

  14. Geebs says:

    Virtual Desktops in VR has been a thing since the early days of the Vive; in fact I think I have at least three installed on my PC right now (great for playing old Wii games in 3D).

    They weren’t much good on the original Vive due to the screen resolution and the embuggerance of trying to click things using a trigger. They’re semi usable with the Valve Index. By the time we have VR headsets equipped with 8K per eye, they might even be practical!

  15. Geebs says:

    Re: the “Toxic gamers” narrative,

    To add to what Paul was saying about the proportion of gamers who are technically savvy, for people of my generation playing video or tabletop games was considered to be very weird and a great way to make yourself an outcast at school. I don’t really have any IRL friends or family who are even slightly interested in technical or gaming stuff, and I don’t actually even want to make any “gaming” friends in real life because of that stigma I experienced as a nerdy kid. It makes sense to me that, if I want to talk about Nerd Stuff, I do it online. I imagine I’m not the only one.

  16. Ninety-Three says:

    Re: Patches that ruined the game, card games have this problem a lot. Old sets rotate out of standard play, they release a new set that changes the metagame, and if the developers haven’t gotten significantly better at designing cards in the last three months, there’s a 50/50 chance them changing things makes it worse not better. But card game set releases feel a bit like cheating the spirit of the question, even if they are predominantly digital these days.

    So to list traditional videogames that I felt were ruined by patches:
    Ironclad Tactics, Zachtronics’ weird foray into mech battling, did a balance patch that nerfed my favorite mech by reducing its mobility to the point that it played dramatically differently and stopped being fun.

    Star Wars Galaxies was one of those beautiful “MMO as world, not themepark” games that predated the “Everything must be a WoW-clone” craze, and it had a bunch of interesting systems designed to give rise to emergent play. Then they redesigned the whole game to be more like WoW, in the process stripping out everything that made it unique.

    Skyrim! Remember a few years ago when they came out with the HD version of Skyrim? Not only did it break compatibility with mods, but it was seriously unstable, about as bad as the original game had been at launch.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      It didn’t strictly break the game but Skyrim did have that patch that somehow flipped the dragon models, as in, they were flying tail-forward and breathing fire from the wrong end. It was more hilarious than anything else and I think people still remember it fondly.

  17. BlueHorus says:


    I more or less agree with Shamus about the perception of gamers as ‘toxic’ – particularly the part about the internet. I mean, look at the ‘quality’ of debates that can be found about – anything, really, but politics is the classic example – that can be found online; ordinary people will say things they simply wouldn’t in the real world. (Or rather, they would, but only when surrounded by other people that agree with them. For safety reasons.)
    It is very distinctly Not Just Gamers.

    But I also think he missed that there’s already an established narrative involved here, which I can see it coming from two areas:
    a) the cynical, deliberate angle from games companies etc. Example: people are complaining about [INSERT THING HERE*]. Now it could be that i) they have a valid point, but that’s inconvienient and means we did something bad. So let’s go with ii) they’re only complaining because they’re whiny, entitled manchildren. If we rile them up they’ll play to type and we’ll make it true! (and won’t be in the wrong)

    b) What’s a better news story? ‘Man plays games quietly by himself’? ‘Customers Mildy Disappointed By Latest Shoot Guy Game’? Or is it ‘GAME DEV FACES DEATH THREATS OVER TRANS CHARACTER!’ or ‘BASEMENT DWELLING LOSERS RIOT OVER LACK OF SHOOT GUY COPIES IN GAMESTOP!’
    It’s less deliberate, but probably a stronger force – clickbait articles and lazy news pandering to lazy stereotypes and the most extreme examples. And once said stereotype is established, it gets easier and easier for people to fall back on…

    *Examples: DRM, lootboxes, the newest game being bad, and so on.

    1. Hector says:

      Its amazing how so many billion-dollar corporations with unethical business practices are mercilessly bullied by random people in their pajamas.

      1. Kyle Haight says:

        To be fair, corporations as such don’t get bullied — individuals who work for them do, and the individuals on the receiving end are often not the ones who made the decisions to which the critics object. It’s sort of like raging on the Wal-Mart greeter because you don’t like the company’s opposition to labor unions.

        1. Steve C says:

          I’m of two minds about this. Like of course it is not fair to blame and punish the waitress about the terrible meal you were given. It wasn’t her fault, it was the cook’s. Except how else do you express your displeasure? The only real way is to state your reasons, deny a tip, and hope that your feelings get communicated to management. Anything else can be dismissed and ignored.

          Obviously don’t resort to harassment. However if the community manager feels job related stress from poor company decisions then I’m not going to feel particularly sorry. It is their job and they are being paid for it. If a person can’t handle being booed off a stage for a terrible release then maybe refuse to go up on stage? Or get a different job?

          1. Syal says:

            Anything else can be dismissed and ignored.

            So can that though. The cook has still been paid.

            The best way to express displeasure is to tell your friends the restaurant has bad food, and not engage with the employees at all,.

          2. The Nick says:

            This isn’t the best of analogies.

            But if you want to use a waitress: community manager and restaurant: game company analogy, your suggestion here is actually really problematic at best.

            1) you seem to be suggesting that you shouldn’t take actions that will have an impact on people who aren’t responsible for the wrongs committed to you. That’s good advice. But in this example, you’re saying to pay the money that goes to the cook and the management and then deny the money that goes to the waitress who served you, did nothing wrong, and needs the money the most.

            If you want to be consistent, you need to demand to talk to the management, refuse to pay the bill, and leave a fair tip to the only person in the exchange who actually did right by you.

            2) you say not to harass people (this is good advice) but then say you don’t feel bad for a person who is being harassed by people who are targeting him for actions that are explicitly not his fault.

            Again, this is bad advice. You’re not only ignoring your own advice of not harassing the man, but you’re saying you won’t actually feel bad for the guy who is not misbehaving yet still receiving unjust harassment.

            It’s a little unrealistic to expect people, from waitresses (who you’re refusing to tip) to community managers (who seemingly are just trying to get along with people and are not the top-level devs or CEOs doing the objectionable activity), to just “not do their jobs” or “just quit”.

            In the waitress example, they’re literally the one serving you.

            In the community manager example, they’re not the ones who are traditionally thought of as the ‘bad guys’ in these sorts of situations (i.e. nobody looks at Konami and says, “Yeah, the problem is the guy fostering good discussion and stopping trolls, not the CEO who creates a literal hellish environment for employees.”) and probably shouldn’t be harassed.

            After thinking it out, I don’t think the waitress or the community manager examples are bad ones. They’re somewhat analogous.

            But the advice on how to treat the people on the lowest end of the corporate totem pole who aren’t responsible for the behavior we both can agree is bad?

            Not a good idea.

  18. 0451fan0451 says:

    Would love to see some more streams. Especially of Metro Exodus.

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      Yeah, same. I will watch them in records, most of the time, but I did enjoy Shamus’ previous attempts

      1. Lino says:

        I’d probably also watch the vods, since Shamus streams at inappropriate times for me.

    2. Moridin says:

      In principle I’d also like to see more streams, but since I live in Europe, they always seem to happen at very inconvenient times.

  19. Rack says:

    You absolutely can stream a desktop into VR already. It’s done natively in Oculus VR and there are tools to do so in SteamVR. That said it works about as well as you’d expect it does, no idea if this new system Valve are trying is better but based on how awful SteamVR is in general I kind of doubt it.

    As for the great Internet angry I think you’ve got a very solid angle on it. I would say this has been exacerbated by publishers attitudes and behaviour as well as the attitudes and behaviour of gaming journalists. People are passionate about gaming as a hobby but with publishers exploiting that passion and journalists belittling any pushback against exploitative behaviour it’s caused a lot of frustration with no outlet. Over time the relationship between gamers and both the press and publishers has become downright adversarial, with developers caught in the middle. Some of those raging jerks who happen to be gamers still wouldn’t be acting in a toxic fashion if they didn’t feel ignored, belittled and exploited.

  20. Mark says:

    Re: patches that ruined a game — Planetside, a massively multiplayer FPS, originally launched with an “instant action” system that would teleport you straight to wherever it thought a fight was going on. This system was extremely sensitive, to the point that two randoms shooting pistols at each other at a tower in the middle of nowhere was just as likely to be selected as a infantry battle over a vital base. However, that had the effect that any random fight could snowball into a huge battle with reinforcements flooding in from both sides, which was unpredictable fun. The developers “fixed” the oversensitivity to such a degree that the system barely could detect even the giant infantry battles, and “instant action” became useless. This didn’t ruin the game, but it did make me sad :(

  21. Lino says:

    I’ve always liked these mailbag episodes. I especially liked the intermission :D

  22. ccesarano says:

    I am effectively in agreement with both Shamus and Paul in regards to gamers and the toxicity of their consumerism. Having worked retail at both a GameStop and my university’s computer store, I can tell you that age, gender, race, and hobbies have no bearing on who will be a kind customer and who will be an irrational, screaming customer. It just so happened that my worst experiences at the latter job involved Professors, with one in particular seeming confused that they couldn’t just be given the software they desired for free. They expected it to be a perk of their position. However, the vast majority of Professors were just normal customers looking to perform a transaction under the commonly understood rules of commerce.

    Come November, the Internet will broaden its definition of toxic consumers to include those that take part in Black Friday sales, which is partially what leads to some of what Paul was getting at. While I’d say the majority of Black Friday shoppers are also normal customers with an understanding of the rules of commerce, you increase the odds of the rude, aggressive, and even unstable sort not only appearing, but interacting with other customers of that sort. That most people woke up at unreasonable hours (after perhaps doing so the day before to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner) is already going to dampen their mood, with the artificially constructed pressures of gift-giving and socially or habitually programmed desire to obtain physical goods without having to break the bank slowly increasing the heat on the burner.

    Social media is not only tossing everyone together in a boiling pot like Black Friday, it’s also giving them a sense of community that the more self-driven nature of Black Friday provides. So it goes from being a single fight against just one jerk, to a full-blown war. Or at least, the perception of a war.

    There are, of course, other factors. It could be in casual conversation these people seem a lot more stable and level-headed. I have had conversations with a friend of mine where our different political perspectives somehow never cause an explosion of drama and hatred. We agree on more than we disagree, and we find time pleasant. Yet if I only knew him through Twitter, I have no doubt that I’d have a very, very different perception of him simply due to the way he delivers his political opinions through that platform. Social media does not encourage polite discourse, yet it has brought people into perceived communities and then lines are drawn and a war begins being fought. All of a sudden everyone’s on a crusade, their opponents a collection of avatars and commonly used phrases in profiles.

    One more separation from reality and the online perception is that, in reality, you can determine someone’s given age based on their appearance. Even if it’s just a range, you’ll know when you’re speaking to an adult with some life experience versus a teenager. One acting out of hand may be perceived differently than the other, but in a social media feed it is perceived just the same.

    I dunno, I think really this is just one big topic that is in part fueled for my distaste in social media and the conflict-driven social engineering it has performed on people. The most dangerous thing you can do is assume that the culture on Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. in some way reflect reality.

    1. Kyle Haight says:

      There is definitely a big difference between ‘the world as seen through social media’ and ‘the world as experienced directly’. I live in an area where my political views are in a definite minority. I’m surrounded by people who, judging by social media, should be constantly attacking me in a never-ending frothing rage. But I never experience anything like that in my face-to-face interactions, even though I don’t keep my views a secret. I even have calm, reasonable, issue-focused discussions with those with whom I disagree.

      It’s almost like we’re mature adults who are capable of disagreeing on important issues and nevertheless living together peacefully and respectfully.

      I have essentially stopped using social media, for a variety of reasons. Its propensity for stoking anger to drive ‘engagement’ is one of the big ones. If I were the kind of person who used phrases like ‘socially irresponsible’, I’d use them here.

  23. Mikko Lukkarinen says:

    A couple more things that fuel this “Gamers are toxic” issue: if the Panera Bread Guy starts screaming at midday and is gone by 12:05, someone coming in at 12:06 will have no idea anything’s happened, whereas a screaming match on Twitter stays there forever. And also, out in the real world you can only be in one Panera Bread at a time, but on the internet you could be screaming in a hundred different Panera Breads at once! Isn’t technology great?

  24. Moss says:

    VR only for Linux DE? Another win for the best OS to ever exist :D

  25. Dreadjaws says:

    However it got me thinking: What are your favourite and least favuorite unexpected gameplay changes in games?

    I think I already mentioned this in some other article here (might have been some other website, I don’t remember), but Manual Samuel. Oh, my God, Manual Samuel.

    To be clear, the whole objective of the game is that your character is hard to control. You have to move each limb manually, you have to breathe and blink on your own every few seconds and all that. That is hard, but it’s entertaining. It’s the entire concept of the game: making routine tasks incredibly difficult by making the controls unnecessarily complex. It’s ridiculous, but it’s precisely where the fun lies.

    And then comes the final (and only) boss battle. Suddenly this stopped being a “try to do normal things while having to manually move” game and starts being a “guess the constantly-changing new rules that aren’t explained at all so you can fight this monster while having to manually move (even though at this point of the story it doesn’t make sense that you still have to)”. Inserting a puzzle combat stage could be interesting, if you were aware of the rules and didn’t have to guess them every new stage of the battle. The game stops being fun and it becomes uninstall-level infuriating.

    For a good change, I’ll add the strategy minigame you get to play in the middle of Final Fantasy VII. That’s loads of fun.

    1. Lino says:

      Sounds like the devs took a look at the boss battles in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and said to themselves: “Wow, that’s bad. But I bet I can make something even worse!
      Still, the main premise of the game sounds wickedly fun! I might give it a try, and if I get too frustrated at the boss battle, I’ll probably just watch it on YouTube…

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Speaking of: boss battles in Deus Ex and generally when a game decides that no matter how much it allowed for different playstyles now is the time to fight! The new Deus Ex did it, Vampire the Masquerade:Bloodlines (as much as I love the game) did it, I think System Shock 2 did it though it’s been a while…

        Or all those third person games where you fight through the game, gain more skill both as a character and a player, but then the final bossfight(s) is/are a series of QTEs…

  26. Dreadjaws says:

    In my experience customers in games seem to be far worse.

    I think the origin behind this whole sentiment is that “gamers” isn’t a job or anything like that. Most people today are gamers. It just so happen that opinions on games (and entertainment in general) are more proliferate than opinions about other subjects, and people who game are more likely to follow gaming news than other news. Like, I love pizza, but I don’t follow pizza news. I can assure you, though, that if I did I’d run into lots of “toxic” pizza opinions.

    Plus, sadly, lots of high-profile gaming websites seem to push this narrative. If you look at the whole Ooblets deal, for instance, you’ll see that every major gaming website started reporting the original post as a “great” thing and every subsequent news about the subject was an attack on “toxic gamers”. They never took even a moment to point out that some people (in fact, most people) had legitimate concerns and complaints and that the original post’s was condescending and would reasonably upset people. If you read this kind of press without taking the time to check the facts, you’ll definitely believe that most gamers are “toxic”.

    This is what the sensationalist press does. They feed on rage. It’s important to learn to question these statements instead of accepting them outright.

    1. Gresman says:

      I have to clarify something.
      I get the distinct feeling my intentions and background is misinterpreted. By experience I did not mean “I as a person who read news and comments”. I meant “I as a person who worked customer support at a games company”.

      I think the comments under a news article are something different than comments in a customer support forum or customer support mail.

      I still lie awake sometime at night from the instances, where I came in the office and had to read “Why have you BEEP incompetent BEEP not fixed this yet you lazy scammers. Someone should come to your office and shoot you down.” or something similar. This one stays with you even if you write messages with a corporate account. But your real name is still on the game and the company address is still on the website. Just one of those guys has to mean it and do it.

      BEEPS were added by me because we do not need unnecessary expletives.

      I get frustration and somesuch. It is fine and natural. But there is definitely a huge difference between the above and “Hey guys, I am not able to log. Could you please check that out.”

    2. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Okay, I’m rebutting that every news outlet reported the Obletts statement as a positive. Many of them called it a “controversial” post or noted that it had upset the community. It’s pretty rich to me that you deride press outlets for being sensational, while editorializing every story they put out to sound as bad as possible, contrary to facts.

  27. Moss says:

    Cube Tossers, I’d much rather you took your time answering a few questions instead of rushing through the entire mail bag. I really enjoyed your discussion about gamer toxicity cause you took your time.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      That’s partly my fault. I was on a schedule, and was trying to get through as many as possible.
      Also, it’s partly my fault that, in response to a lot of these questions, I just didn’t have much to say.
      I’m glad you’re enjoying the show enough to want more of it though! If you feel that we didn’t do a particular question the justice it was deserved, feel free to e-mail it in again (perhaps with your own spin on it) and we’ll tackle it again!

    1. RFS-81 says:

      Is it weird that every time a Diecast ends, I hope that he says “Goodbye, Paul!” again? Probably.

      1. Lino says:

        Count me in the weird pile as well, then, because I also find it strange whenever he just says “Goodbye!”

  28. samuel222 says:

    I mean that video wasn’t very well argued (EC as usual), but I don’t see why they get so much hate for it – apart of course from the actual Nazis hating the video for being against Nazis. I’m sure the bigots have a field day in rallying normal people into arguing in favour of more bigotry, using wonderful terms like Free Speech which they love to do when it serves them. I’d wager that’s where most of the dislikes come from: Actual Nazis being offended that they are the actual bad guys, and not just “the other side” like the game portrays. The modern right-wing political groups are *very* good at mobilizing for a PR war when the chance presents itself.

    But the fundamental point is correct: Making players play the Nazis DOES normalize being a Nazi. That’s how media works: If you keep showing something in a positive light, sooner or later your audience will have a more positive attitude towards it. I mean just google “how media normalizes” and you’ll find pages upon pages of examples how that works. If you keep repeating something as “this is common”, people’s emotional reaction drifts to “this is normal” – those two are not the same, but our brains are bad at the distinction.

    If the media keeps telling you that there are two sides to this discussion, then after a while you start believing that both sides have similar value, even if one side is complete bonkers, like flatearthers, antivaxxers or creationism. And of course if you keep showing Nazis as “just the other side”, then after a while people might just not be very concerned when the new neighbour has a Swastika tattoo (“he’s a nice guy!”), just like WoW players have a friendly rivalry about Alliance vs Horde. What once was disgust turned into friendly banter. And that’s a problem.

    The fact that people are offended at “being a Nazi is bad” says more about the audience than about the channel.

    Also I have to say joking about it in the podcast is rather childish. This is not a funny subject. Maybe if people discussed politics like adults instead of either screaming angry rage or putting a taboo on it we would not have so many political issues right now.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Sorry it had to be edited out, but I had SUCH a good response to this in point 4, subsection E of my rant. Shamus can’t stop me from reiterating it here though! Basically, it boils down to REDACTED which I think you have to agree makes a lot of sense.
      EDIT: Curse you Shamus!

      1. samuel222 says:

        As funny as a dead Jew.

          1. samuel222 says:

            That’s how I reacted to Paul’s “joke” as well.

    2. Narkis says:

      This reminds me of the “games normalize violence” hysteria of twenty years ago. It wasn’t true then, and it still isn’t true now.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Studies have shown that video games have little effect on people’s ideas and behaviour. One study showed a correlation between playing Resident Evil 4 and being good at shooting gun, but… reading the study showed that they doctored the result, while the data showed that there was no correlation.

        In short: no. Video games do not turn regular people into psychopaths. They’re just an easy scapegoat when a psychopath does a bad.

    3. Shamus says:

      “Making players play the Nazis DOES normalize being a Nazi”

      Not in the slightest. It can’t fill your heart with hatred or inhibit your ability to empathize with your fellow human beings. Your argument is based on the idea that the Nazi symbols should be forbidden and taboo. But that’s not what made the Nazis bad. If the Nazis used the Union Jack and the British used the swastika, it would not have inverted the morality of the conflict.

      You seem to think that everyone else is too stupid to tell the difference between reality and fiction, and playing as a Nazi will make them more open to Nazi ideology. You seem to believe you’re the only one smart enough to see the world as it really is and everyone else is a dull sheeple waiting for the computer to tell them what to think. This is pretty demonstrably not the case.

      “That’s how media works: If you keep showing something in a positive light, sooner or later your audience will have a more positive attitude towards it. ”

      The game does no such thing. There is nothing positive in the depiction of the Nazis. They are simply taken as a historical reality. You’re literally arguing against showing a true thing. Nazis fought in WWII. The guys on the battlefield are shooting each other, not discussing ideology.

      “If the media keeps telling you that there are two sides to this discussion, then after a while you start believing that both sides have similar value, even if one side is complete bonkers, like flatearthers, antivaxxers or creationism.”

      Are you… are you arguing in favor of censoring or suppressing ideas that don’t fit your worldview? I mean, flatearthers make no damn sense to me, but I’m content to live in a world where those people are allowed to say and believe things that are wrong because the alternative is crushing oppression. You imagine that only “bad” ideas will be oppressed (by who?) but in a historical sense that sort of thinking has done a lot more damage than flatearthers ever did.

      “The fact that people are offended at “being a Nazi is bad” says more about the audience than about the channel.”

      You construct your argument in such a way as to imply that everyone who disagrees with you is evil, and then you lament the sad state of political discourse.

      “Also I have to say joking about it in the podcast is rather childish. This is not a funny subject.”

      Shrug. It got a smile out of me.

      1. Steve C says:

        I could see the punchline coming a mile away and still laughed. It had good delivery.

      2. samuel222 says:

        You’re arguing against a straw-man, a reconstruction of the argument that EC (and I) made, but slightly altered to be utterly ridiculous.

        Nobody argued in favour of censorship.

        Nobody argued that people cannot distinguish reality from fiction.

        The argument was that when media presents two unequal sides as equal, that gives undue weight to the side that does not deserve our full attention. When we are confronted with flat-earthers being taken as seriously as nobel-prize carriers, that’s damaging to the discourse. Let them talk. But don’t treat idiotic ideas with equal rights than sensible ideas.

        Journalism does not have to equally represent every idea. Journalism is about prioritizing, and making clear what is truth, and what is bullshit. Nothing is wrong about asking artists to think a bit like journalists when they tackle political topics. EC (and I) did not ask for censorship. We asked for artists to realize that they have responsibilities, and for thoughtfulness about what they depict, and how they depict it.

        The fact that you got angry at my dead Jew comment just demonstrates how you completely subscribe to the idea that people can say the wrong thing, except you suddenly turn around and then blame me for wanting censorship (against what I said).

        1. Shamus says:

          “Nobody argued in favour of censorship.”

          The EC argument is still saying it shouldn’t be done. Its rhetorical position is that making this game is morally wrong. The video is even called “Stop doing X”, not “Doing X is problematic” or “You should put more thought into X”. It’a calling for an end to this sort of multiplayer.

          “The fact that you got angry at my dead Jew comment just demonstrates how you completely subscribe to the idea that people can say the wrong thing, except you suddenly turn around and then blame me for wanting censorship (against what I said).”

          I disapproved because I could tell you were trying to start a fight I’d have to moderate. You said something deliberately provocative, and now you’re yelling “gotcha” that I objected. There’s a huge difference between me setting rules on my site for the purposes of facilitating discussion and EC accusing developers of enabling Nazi-ism (or whatever) by putting Nazis in a multiplayer shooter. The comparison is preposterous.

          If you can’t tell the difference between Paul’s joke and your joke, that’s on you.

          1. samuel222 says:

            I was never going to start a fight. I said that to make it clear how not funny Paul is, and to make this point about tasteless content.

            > The video is even called “Stop doing X” (“no Nazi player characters”)

            (and that’s bad)

            > me setting rules on my site (“no politics discussion”)

            (but that’s good)

            The comparison is there because you both did the same: You asked for people to stop making very specific choices in art and expression you believe is bad. Neither EC nor you applied any censorship, but you both think that not everything that can be said, should be said. Your reasoning is different (“for the sake of discussion”) as theirs (“for the sake of morals”) – but neither of these two is objectively the better reason.

            Telling me what to write and what not to write (on your blog) is *exactly* the same thing as EC telling game designers what to write and what not to write (into their design documents). Just like you can argue “this is my blog” they can argue “this is my game”.

            If anything, your rule carries more weight, as you can actually enforce it.

            The only real argument you can make is that playing as Nazis does not turn people into Nazis, because playing Doom does not turn people into demon slaying manbeasts either. But here’s the crux: Marketing and propaganda exist. Both work, and they work shockingly well. It takes very little to turn someone who is already a racist bigot into a Nazi, and there are by god enough racist bigots out there.

            1. Grimwear says:

              There aren’t loads of racists and bigots everywhere and even less Nazis. I recommend searching for the CGP Grey video titled “This Video Will Make You Angry”. It seems you have been spending a lot of time in areas that have incited you to paint a large group of individuals as horrible hatemongers based on arbitrary criteria. People didn’t like the EC episode? Nazis! I recommend maybe avoiding some of those places. It’s very hard to do. I left Escapist Magazine back when they had their forum posts on the front page because so many of the topics were incendiary. I don’t have a social media presence but from what I hear it’s much worse.

            2. Daimbert says:

              There’s a huge difference between “Don’t do this on my site that is mine” and “Don’t do this in things that I have no ownership over because I don’t like it”. For example, on my blog I don’t allow swearing in comments, but I wouldn’t go out and tell all other blogs that they should do the same. I get to say what happens in what I control, but can at best try to persuade others to do it in the things they control.

              So if someone who made a game did the things EC says should be done for their reasons, that would be fine, and other games could either adopt that model or else keep the existing one. But that’s not what they are advocating for, and at the end of the day they aren’t even merely advocating for the choice, but for no games to ever do those things, which is a different story entirely.

        2. PPX14 says:

          Difficult to argue with the sentiment of your posts – it seems like you’re saying something along the lines of:

          – does this sort of thing (video game violence, playing as “baddies”) definitely directly cause people to do bad things? No
          – Is there a chance that it could influence some people in a negative way
          – Would it be reasonable for higher powers to censor it in order to prevent the chance of negative impact
          – Would it be wise for the potential impact to be considered in game design and (say) age-rating, or discussed?

          As you say it’s well known that marketing and propaganda are effective means of psychological manipulation, as is the normalisation of (say) discrimination against certain things or people.

          (For a funny example, I myself was worried as a child that not having a car would mean I’d never get a girlfriend because American programmes indicated that this was a bad thing for a 16 year old boy picking up a girl on a date)

          (For a better example, look at how marketing has managed to make many people assume that certain customs should be observed on Valentine’s Day and have specific expectations or even fears or opinions about people as a result)

          The extent to which specific things have specific effects on the psyche and society and so on are I’m sure up for debate, and my first thought was of course pah it’s great that we can play both sides – but I’m happy for someone to come and say actually there might be potential for an issue here – see X Y and Z from history or research or even just thought experiment. I don’t think it’s good for people to just shout “of course not that’s ridiculous” necessarily.

          Depending on what it is of course, I’d better watch the video!!

          1. samuel222 says:

            I think you summed up my points pretty well.

            1. PPX14 says:

              Ah I’m glad.

              It’s a shame that such topics end up appearing so black and white in discussion.

              I think perhaps entities such as the Nazis have ended up parodied and used in media to the extent that rather than people forgetting about the dangers of whatever caused them to come about as a result of lack of exposure to their existence, people instead see them as a fantasy villain and so they still become an unrealistic entity, and the important psycho-socio-political history is lost on most, if even taught to begin with. I really do think we need to learn a great deal more modern history in school. I didn’t know that Taiwan is part of China, and claims independence, or is an island, until months ago looking it up on Wikipedia.

      3. Mistwraithe says:

        I know I’m days late to the party but the topic has been bugging me. I feel like at some point the western world will need to work out some way of giving truth and facts a bit more credit over untruth and misinformation. Some misinformation is largely harmless, like flatearthers, but others can be extremely harmful to society like antivaxxers. The latter are already causing the deaths of significant numbers of people every year and if current trends continue its going to get much worse until thousands (or worse) will be dying each year from diseases that were largely wiped out in the western world before this particular brand of viral misinformation started. There are obviously other serious categories of misinformation too.

        The flip side is that if you give the government the ability to police the truth you can easily end up like China where the government *defines* the truth with little resemblance to the actual truth. You could say the US has been heading the same way the last few years. So it’s a very tricky subject, but I feel continuing to ignore it in favour of allowing the unlimited dissemination of demonstrably false information on public platforms (ie the internet) is rapidly also becoming a losing strategy.

        1. samuel222 says:

          As I mentioned earlier: The responsibility lies with journalism. That’s their job!

          In recent times the US has misunderstood journalism to be about presenting just the raw facts, but that’s not the case. Journalists are supposed to figure out which side deserves the “this is the truth” stamp, and not give ridiculous lies and bullshit front page space.

          When I read a newspaper, I expect that they made sure to filter for bullshit, and only show me stuff that’s important. And if some politician tells a lie, don’t spend two pages on discussing the merits. Just put “politician lied about X” and go on. One does not need to censor, one only needs to prioritize. Even repeating the lie often enough will make seem it true. So don’t. There is no need to even quote an open liar.

          But that’s not where the money is, eh?

          1. Mistwraithe says:

            I suspect you are largely right. Certainly it seems that the countries where the truth suffers the most are countries where the news organisations no longer even try to be impartial, whether that is from government control (eg China) or from deliberate partisanship.

            I think the internet has also changed things for the worse (in this respect – it has obviously also had massive benefits in other areas) as there are now easy platforms for people to disseminate their own agenda and it seems to have become a thing where the public increasingly surround themselves with online sources which reinforce their existing beliefs. However, having impartial(ish) news organisations again would probably significantly counteract these problems.

    4. Daimbert says:

      Well, degrees of hate and badness of an article/video and things like that tend to be subjective, but I can say with certainty that despite having no political horse in the race at all I was very tempted to lay into the video when it came out on my blog, and the only reason I didn’t was because their original official response was that people who had criticized it had made some good points and that they were wrong about parts of it, which led me to believe that they were going to do a corrections video later, which they, at least at last check, hadn’t. So, yes, the video is so bad that even THEY admit that they got some things badly wrong.

      The issue is that they started from a not unreasonable point but then went off the rails. The idea that’s good is that in a lot of FPSs the conflict is based around a more-or-less historically accurate good side and bad side, but then the multiplayer matching tends to randomly assign players to one side or the other. But there are very good reasons why some people, at least, might not be comfortable playing as the “bad” side, and games should at least let them decide if they want to do that or not instead of forcing them to either risk that or never play multiplayer (or, at least, wait for the matching to expire and then have to quit out of it if they get the wrong side, which annoys them and all the other players as well).

      But even putting aside the normalization argument — which is shaky in this case because the multiplayer isn’t narrative but is instead a more historical version of “shirts vs skins” — the rest of the video was quite bad. First, even when they talked about allowing people to choose the fact that people who are willing to play as the “bad” side might end up with shorter queues and so might play more was presented as a horrible problem that needed to be solved, when in essence that’s the outcome of the only really acceptable gaming way to approach the subject.

      Second, their ultimate solution was to drop the historical conflict out of it and present all of these multiplayer scenarios in favour of having them set up as “training”, so that no one ever plays as the bad side. Which means that the multiplayer scenarios in a WWII game would never have players actually fighting the Germans, which is absurd. A game could definitely do that if they wanted to, but as is normal for EC it’s not presented as something they can do if they want but as some kind of superior way of doing things, which doesn’t make sense and would only hurt the game.

      Third, despite you talking about Nazis and swastikas they went even further, calling out the Iron Cross as problematic and, thus, calling out the Wehrmacht and even GERMANY as being things that you can’t present in the game. This, then, effectively forces makers of a WWII game to not allow players to play as Germans, nor to show the German army. This, then, effectively defines all Germans as Nazis, despite that clearly not being true.

      Ultimately, at the end of the day their solution was to sanitize the history of WWII and leave out everything that actually happened in it, in a way that demonizes Germans in an attempt to avoid having anyone ever empathize with a Nazi, despite these things happening in a game mode where empathizing is not normally going to occur. At that point, they clearly moved beyond a decent point and more into one that sounded a lot like a screed, and their audience reacted accordingly.

    5. Paul Spooner says:

      Just wanted to clarify that I planned and executed the joke diatribe at 30:05 entirely without Shamus’ prior knowledge. If it was in poor taste (which we can disagree about) that’s entirely on me. If you object, more broadly, to the light-hearted attitude I took in answering the e-mail, I can only remind you that a sober and serious address would require importing a political discussion which, quite aside from the violation of this blog’s “no politics” rule, would be far off the “video games” topic of the podcast.
      I’m thinking about starting a political discussion podcast though, as these issues are really quite important. They just aren’t appropriate here.

      1. Lino says:

        I actually thought it was very funny. It was a completely harmless joke, in my opinion (the fact that no one else has felt the need to object to it shows that I’m not in the minority).

    6. Distec says:

      You sincerely want to argue that 234,000 dislikes on that video is mostly due to Nazis?
      Like – I admire the brass of this.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Distec! I’m at work here! Now I have to take a lunch break because I can’t stop laughing! Oh man.
        And really, if the Nazi cult has been so civilized that they can limit their methodological disagreement to the very civil act of clicking the “dislike” button, perhaps it’s time we REDACTED, don’t you think?
        EDIT: Looks like the real oppression here is at the hands of the moderators.

      2. Moridin says:

        Well, I suppose it could be due to some nazi brass making an executive decision…

      3. evilmrhenry says:

        Youtube dislikes on a politically-charged video are basically meaningless. Between bots, purchases of mass dislikes, and good-old-fashioned grabbing all your friends and having them dislike the video, the dislikes only bear a passing resemblance to “reality”.

        1. Grimwear says:

          I personally disagree with this and in fact believe the opposite. I’ve never seen any proof that all the dislikes were bought, or bot accounts. I have however seen on tracking sites thousands of dislikes and comments simply disappear into the ether. Heck a lot of comments on those videos are people reposting saying their original comments were removed. Those may be fake as well but it’s real hard to prove bot accounts are the reason behind it whereas it’s easy to see and prove when a large volume were deleted all at once.

          1. evilmrhenry says:

            When thousands of dislikes are removed, that’s Youtube using their anti-botting system to remove purchased mass dislikes. This does not help your case. (Or it could be Youtube being spread across thousands of servers, and things not always being in sync, just to muddy the waters further.)

            When EC responded to the mass dislikes by saying that all of their political videos get that same pattern, they weren’t kidding. Some of the dislikes are going to be because it’s honestly not a very good video, but others are going to be because they touched on a political topic, and political videos always get mass dislikes. (This probably damaged their initial response; they thought they were mainly dealing with mass political dislikes, and didn’t do as much introspection about the video quality as they should have.)

            1. Grimwear says:

              See I don’t know the correct reason (and neither do you). There are many potential reasons as you said. Buying dislikes, multiple servers on high traffic videos, actually removing dislikes. But we can see and have proof that there were mass deletions of dislikes and comments. Honestly when it comes to bots…I don’t believe it. I’m sure it’s happened but on such a large scale? Doubtful. A quick google search shows that even buying the maximum package of 2000 dislikes takes 5-20 days to be delivered which doesn’t at all account for the time frame the massive amounts of dislikes and comments were put up and subsequently taken down. It’s easy to attribute this all to bots, makes it all simple. All the hate? A minority with hundreds of dollars to spend disliking a video! Dislikes which honestly don’t hurt the channel in any way and in fact helps it since dislikes are still engagement on the youtube algorithm! More importantly, it still doesn’t account for the multiple of comments which are people posting that their original comments were deleted and they’re putting up another. Is it possible they’re lying? Of course it is but I deem it unlikely since not only are comments being removed en masse but also dislikes. You’re free to believe what you want though.

              1. Ninety-Three says:

                What is your alternate explanation for the vanishing dislikes? We know Youtube doesn’t give every creator a “remove dislikes” button so it sounds like you’re proposing a conspiracy in which either:
                Youtube gave Extra Credits access to a “remove dislikes” button so secret is existence has never been leaked. They used it to alter their video’s like/dislike ratio from 1/22… to 1/20.
                There’s a “remove dislikes” button but it’s available to Youtube staff only. Someone at Youtube really likes Extra Credits, and is unconcerned about getting caught, so they pushed the button on behalf of EC to remove… 10% of the dislikes.

                This is a really weird conspiracy, man.

                1. Grimwear says:

                  You call it a conspiracy to discredit me but it’s been proven time and again that Youtube will bend to the will of companies. They can abuse the system to claim fair use videos and even take channels down entirely. Is it so crazy to think that they would provide a means for companies to remove dislikes if they so chose? Maybe to Activision and their Diablo Immortal video? Gilette and their video? Or even Youtube itself with their Youtube rewind?

                  Here’s a relatively recent article in which Youtube talks about a means to deal with mass downvoting https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2019/02/youtube-doesnt-like-dislike-mobs-will-try-to-prevent-dislike-button-abuse/

                  The problem is that I, like most people have no insider knowledge. I don’t know if these plans have been in the works for years, months, or even weeks. But Youtube’s director of project management has stated on record where they’ve thought of implementing a system of removing dislikes if someone dislikes without watching the entire video. And I’m positive lots of people disliked without watching the EC video. Just because they disliked without watching doesn’t make them bots. The flaw in my argument is that I don’t know if this would also count towards comments. Though I’m sure if youtube can remove the dislikes of people who don’t watch X amount of minutes of a video they could do the same to a commenter. It was also stated in that article that they want to test these out. Now would they offer it to EC? I personally don’t believe so but they do have 2 million subscribers. They are by no means a small account so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

                  When it comes down to it if you ask me if I believe these mass deletions are just bot accounts or an attempt by Youtube to try and combat mass downvoting (something that many companies are trying to do including Steam), then I personally believe the latter but it’s not a conspiracy much as you’d love it to be so.

        2. Higher_Peanut says:

          When the video dropped you could see the sub count dropping live and it left a massive hit in the graph. Unless everyone regularly subscribes to everything all the time just to unsub. People made reaction videos to it and counter arguments and discussions spread well off the channel. I never expected it anywhere near here. It’s pretty clear people were riled up in general.

          1. evilmrhenry says:

            My comment was specifically about dislikes. Unsubscriptions can’t be faked in the same ways. (Response videos also pop up whenever there’s a political topic, because there’s always people who oppose any sort of political topic. That’s what makes topics political.)

            1. Higher_Peanut says:

              I don’t think you can just talk about likes in isolation and use a low regulated system as an excuse to dismiss an entire argument. A large like/dislike ratio may come with the territory but it is disingenuous to claim that it is entirely meaningless. It is an indicator which can be used to inform of a situation, a large proportion of viewers did not like the content or context. You then use that to see what is going on and find a probable cause and how accurate the ratio is.

              To say dislikes mean nothing and have a passing resemblance of reality because someone could have potentially gamed the system is poor form. You should never look at a single statistic and draw conclusions.

  29. Ninety-Three says:

    Typo patrol: OC Remix, not OCR Remix.

    1. tmtvl says:

      OCR Remix: you take a picture of some text and your computer puts it as lyrics over some blast beats.

  30. Grimwear says:

    The only update to a game I’ve ever had that made me hate a game was They Are Billions. The survival mode is fun and well designed but I decided to put the game on the back burner so I wouldn’t get tired of it when I found out they had a campaign mode in the works. Well in June the campaign came out and…it’s horrible. Probably the least fun rts type campaign I’ve ever played. It just completely killed the game for me and I never went back to play survival even though that mode wasn’t touched.

  31. Syal says:

    Does DLC count as an update? Because Disgaea 2’s “turn monsters into weapons” DLC mechanic made it harder to steal good enemy weapons, and the animation also ignored the “turn off animations” option. I don’t think it can be disabled once you unlock it.

    My understanding is Darkest Dungeon’s DLC bloodlust mechanic had a similar problem of just making characters worse, but I didn’t like Darkest Dungeon enough to finish it before anyway.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      Technically all Darkest dungeon DLC is toggle ready. All of them are readily and individually configurable. Similarly crimson court is advertised as making the game overall more difficult. It would be insulting if it didn’t introduce new harder content.

  32. The Big Brzezinski says:

    I have a conjecture I’ve been chewing on about the idea of toxic gamers. Sure, some people are just poorly adjusted, or have an atypical brain, or are having a bad day. But when I look at something like the Ooblets situation, it’s like they’re going out of their way to antagonize anyone who reads their post into making an angry reply. It reads to me as garden variety trolling, saying something both seemingly innocuous and highly provocative to send someone flying off the handle. Nominal customers/backers were disrespected and insulted for no obvious good reason. These gamers are cancerous, not toxic, caused by the Ooblets devs’ carcinogenic behavior.

    This shouldn’t make any business sense. Yet, I can think of commercial, social, and ****tical endeavors that have succeeded by doing similar things. It’s like it’s far more important to anger the wrong sort of people than to ingratiate yourself to right ones. Twitter is infamous as a venue for flame wars. YouTube legendarily regards likes and dislikes equally as “engagement”. Heck, Facebook has lawmakers breathing down its collective neck over their track record in sponsored content curation. Heck-and-a-half, we have to keep the P word away lest it consume everything here in a capslock tornado. None of this should be harmless to these companies, let alone lucrative.

    What we’re seeing may not be subcultural conflict, techno-societal growing pains, or even unprofessional behavior. This entire mode of inflammatory communication may just be the prevailing marketing strategy. “Sneakers” warned us about this. The perception of reality is more real than reality itself. Poe’s law rendered moot to the point of quaintness. Trolling becomes the Infinity +1 Sword for organized actors who have finally leveled up enough to defeat the Final Boss of the Internet; we, the gestalt of its individual users.

    Some of it’ll probably turn out to be true. The boring, depressing bits most likely. I wonder if CD Project Red will have to change their next game’s store tags from “cyberpunk” to “escapist fantasy” before release.

    1. Kestrellius says:

      “Warning: this social media platform is known to the State of California to cause memetic cancer.”

  33. TLN says:

    Re: Games ruined by updates, they’re a bit of a niche but I’ve always been a huge fan of the Paradox map games. Europa Universalis 4 and Crusader Kings 2 have both received an absolutely insane amount of DLC and updates at this point, CK2 is still a fine game but EU4 definitely peaked something like 5-6 dlc/content patches ago and has just gotten progressively more unplayable for me since then.

    1. Terradyne says:

      I don’t know, I’ve found CK2 to be genuinely unfun nowadays. They’ve added a lot of busywork to it and after a while it just gets wearing. I had hundreds of hours in it, but after the last few DLCs I’ve put progressively less and less in.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Crusader Kings! That’s the one I was trying to think of!
        Ahh well. I knew it had a lot of DLC options. Sad to hear they are making the game worse.

        1. Higher_Peanut says:

          I’ve got friends into CK2, as far as I’m aware most of the stuff is toggle-able. It’s also right at the end of it’s lifetime so like with many games most updates add more stuff over the top for the people still playing who know everything old like the back of their hand and need something new.

          Personally I’m pretty biased though, ALL of CK2 was just busywork to me. So I guess everyone’s mileage may vary on whether or not it’s the kind of busywork they enjoy.

        2. Terradyne says:

          I think worse depends on how you view the game. It’s a combination of…three(?) things, being a strategy game, a medieval politics simulator and a random crazy simulator. And from all of the recent DLCs and updates it feels a lot more like they’ve skewed it in favour of the middle than either of the others. It feels like there are more and more brakes on expansion while you simultaneously have to deal with the same events firing again and again. It can get really bad when you get a large enough state and you’re constantly bombarded with messages, and that’s usually the point that I’ll stop.

          The worst mechanic of all that they added was “threat” which thankfully they’ve included an option to turn off (even if it makes it feel like cheating to play with it off after that) where if you conquered one too many tiny counties then the entire world would declare war on you the moment you did anything and you have to wait decades for it to go away. I have to admire Justinian and Belisarius all the more for having successfully fought off Norway and India at the same time as they were fighting in Africa.

      2. TLN says:

        Hmm I like CK2 more than EU4 these days, but yeah I think both games are significantly worse now compared to 3 years ago or whatever.

    2. Philadelphus says:

      Yeah, Paradox games were immediately what I thought of too. EU 4 was my first Paradox game, and is still my favorite (it scratches that itch for a game about the Age of Exploration, Discovery, and Colonization in a way no other game ever has), and while I haven’t played much the past two years due to grad school, I still follow it and haven’t been altogether happy with what I’ve heard. I’m hopeful (or maybe just naïvely optimistic) that the next patch/release, after a year spent paying up tech debt, fixing bugs, and redesigning core systems like mercenaries will bring back some of the magic.

      EU 4 has this weird issue where war is fun (seriously, it’s actually a really fun system and the most interesting part of the game, especially the peace deals), so people naturally want to try to engage in as much of it as possible. (It helps that in what’s essentially a sandbox with no win state, “get as big and powerful as possible” suggests itself as a personal goal pretty naturally as well.) However, once players get even a modicum of skill, it gets pretty easy to snowball to the point where there’s no viable opposition left in the world for you, even though you only own half a continent and have another hundred+ years in the game. You can only take a limited amount of land at once, and on a cooldown, so it’s either spend another hundred+ years effortlessly swatting flies one by one as you grow to encompass the globe, or quit and start over. Unsurprisingly, many players do the latter.

      This has led, over time, to more and more constraints being put on warmongering—last I heard uncored provinces cause your corruption to tick up, and there was some really controversial change about religious conversion, I think? So now players are slowed down at snowballing, can’t do it as fast—except that’s the whole main point of the game. “You were doing too good at the game so we slowed you down so you can’t grow as quickly to the point where you’re unstoppable,” pretty much sums it up.

      People often say that EU 4 needs some kind of internal realm management to give you something fun to do when not at war (I’m a weirdo who get enjoyment from the colonizing portion of the game, but even if other people did not every country can engage in colony-building). I feel like Stellaris has a pretty good balance to emulate here (although possibly tipped a bit too much the other way, as I’ve played games in Stellaris entirely peacefully because fighting wars felt like too much hassle). I dunno. Hopefully the developers can turn this around and organically slow down the pace of warring without it feeling like an artificial imposition on fun. Maybe part of it is how wars in EU 4 are essentially always fights-to-the-death, all-or-nothing? If we could get some sort of limited-scale conflicts that had the fun strategic element of wars but less risk of losing everything if you lose, that might be kinda fun.

  34. GargamelLenoir says:

    About games ruined by updates, last Christmas Stellaris got a MAJOR update that revamped the entire planet system. It was meant to coincide with the new expansion, which itself was rushed to meet the Christmas deadline. As a result, the game was basically like an early beta. In the game I attempted I steamrolled all the AIs because they had no idea how to handle their planets or create fleets, but my economy would go from “obscenely rich” to “crippling deficit” with no way of foreseeing why. Oh and the game was now so unoptimized that a lot of people couldn’t play it anymore.

    It also links to the toxic gamers thing, people on reddit were obviously upset, but most of them were VERY polite about it (to the point of sycophancy sometimes) since the devs had garnered a lot of goodwill. Well they pissed that away by answering only the most toxic posts and using them as an excuse to show how nonconstructive and unreasonable the community was being!

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      That’s really sad. Stellaris seemed like such a promising game! I kept waiting to play it until it got just a bit better (by which I mean, more like Master of Orion II). But instead, the opposite. Le-sigh.

      1. GargamelLenoir says:

        Well it’s been mostly fixed since then! I’d recommend waiting some more, but I’ve had a TON of fun with it before that patch. Playing rogue servitors (robots who want to care for organics so much they put them in safe bubbles and cater for them ignoring pesky considerations like “consent”) was an absolute lark.

      2. Philadelphus says:

        Stellaris is quite a good game at the moment (it really just needs a good diplomacy overhaul to be more like its brethren to make me happy), it’s just gone through some much more traumatic internal changes than its kin, and the repercussions of such huge, core-system-changing decisions sometimes take a few patches to shake out.

  35. Drew C says:

    Honestly, at this point I watch everything on Extra Credits but the show that gave the channel it’s name. For me it’s the Extra History channel at this point.

  36. Kestrellius says:

    I’d definitely be interested in more streams. I only ever watched the previous ones after-the-fact, but the GTA Hat Patrol streams were very comfy indeed.

  37. thatSeniorGuy says:

    You’re not alone Shamus, I have the exact same issue with the strip of pixels on my home computer! The way I’ve been dealing with it is to log out then log back in again, which ‘fixes’ the issue (changing screen resolution might be quicker though). I would have thought that it would be a graphics driver issue, but I’ve had several updates and the bug’s persisted. Maybe it’s monitor based? I’m using a AOC AGON 23.8″ AG241QG at home (and I might as well mention the card, it’s a Galax Nvidia 8GB GTX 1070 OC).

    1. Shamus says:

      * Same resolution. Same screen size.
      * Different native refresh rate. (Mine’s 144.) Different graphics card. (RTX 2080 Ti.) Different brand. (Asus.)

      Very interesting problem. I’m glad I’m not crazy and this is a real thing.

      1. thatSeniorGuy says:

        I wonder if this is a very obscure bug that occurs with that specific resolution? It might explain why switching it back and forth fixes the issue.

      2. PPX14 says:

        Woah, I haven’t been keeping up – I had the idea you had a mid range graphics card. You can tell us all about Raytracing and AI :) I’ve given up on following the latest GPUs in more than a passing way any more. I’d been toying with a 1080 or 1080Ti for a while to max out the few newer games I have on my 4K TV. But it just seems too extravagant when at least half of my backlog of games is pre-2012, and I can count on my hand the number of games I have that my 970 won’t handle at 4K, that make me want the new card (e.g. Shadow of Mordor (yuck I know but when I found out about the lore messing it was too late and they wouldn’t give a refund, and I’d like to try the nemesis system), Deus Ex Mankind Divided (haven’t played HR yet), err… Prey? (from what I’ve read I might be able to get 30fps so it’s worth trying)) Even now I’m playing ReCore Definitive Edition at 4K almost maxed out. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was the ahem catalyst for really wanting something more powerful but I played it on my 1080p screen instead.

  38. shoeboxjeddy says:

    The problem with the EC video is that a little bit of knowledge makes you dangerous. They started with an idea that might have some actual merit. Aka, turning real life historical tragedies into the equivalent of flag football is weird when you think about it and might actually be a gross thing to do, on full reflection.

    EC then dives into the problem, and IMMEDIATELY it starts going awry. “People might not want to play for the (shorthand here) evil team.” Sure, that makes sense. “So, they should NEVER be automatically sorted to them and people should be allowed to choose.” Okay… now there’s a problem. Anyone who plays competitive shooters knows that unbalanced teams are the fastest route to making the whole match unfair and therefore unfun. EC recognizes this and points out that this could lead to Evil Team getting faster matchmaking queues, aka a better online experience. Well, that certainly wasn’t the objective. So maybe we should… intentionally sabotage the matchmaking process for Evil Team to make sure they have a similar wait times, artificially? Now this has become a bizarre farce. For the game to function, there needs to be two teams of equal size. But now you’re trying to punish Evil Team players for doing the necessary thing for the game to be playable? What??? Are you saying that playing for Evil Team is actually a morally negative thing to be doing? If you think that, why would you even OFFER players the chance to do something you think is real world wrong? And from a more practical perspective, how does the “sabotage the efficiency of our own process on purpose” software function, exactly? It finds a good match and then deliberately pretends it hasn’t for an arbitrary amount of time? How long is long “enough”?

    Another problem was the suggestion that the sides shouldn’t be “balanced” for game design purposes, they should be historically accurate above all else. This is yet more nonsense. What is Extra Credits, the channel that has spent years and years talking about all this good game design, thinking? Are they suggesting that maybe it would be good, responsible design for one of the multiplayer maps to be a guaranteed win for one side because historically that’s how it turned out? Wouldn’t people quit instantly if that map came up? And why would the devs spend precious resources on a map that would automatically be the worst, least fun one? Are they suggesting that the devs should ONLY make historical multiplayer maps around battles that were evenly matched for the most part? That’s… just a weird thing to suggest! Especially because… are they saying that if there was a time that Evil Team won some lopsided victories (and there definitely was!) that they need to force a losing battle on Team not Evil? Kind of runs counter to the whole “let’s not empower real life Evil Team” point of the video, don’t you think?

    Then there’s that weird tangent where they start saying that a multiplayer mode should stop and give the player an in depth history lesson about the wrongs committed by Team Evil. Multiplayer games don’t even generally have stories and now you’re literally saying they should come with unskippable lectures? I feel like this is arguing in bad faith, that’s how silly this is.

    If they think the answer is “there is something unconscionable ENOUGH about these types of games that they shouldn’t be made,” they should have just said that. They would have gotten some strong pushback, but at least it would be based on a moral stand they made, instead of idiotic, illogical game design suggestions. If you think military shooters are unethical, that’s a view that you could have. But if you start making a bunch of suggestions that would OBVIOUSLY ruin them as games and pretend that you’re trying to “fix” them, I think that’s cowardice and a pathetic artiface.

    1. Shamus says:

      “They started with an idea that might have some actual merit. Aka, turning real life historical tragedies into the equivalent of flag football is weird when you think about it and might actually be a gross thing to do, on full reflection.”

      That’s an interesting idea for a video. And I kinda feel like that’s the video “Old Extra Credits” would have made.

      It’s weird. I’m pretty sure former host Dan just read the scripts and wasn’t a writer, but since he left it feels like the authorial voice of the channel has changed. (Disclaimer: I watched all the old episodes multiple times and only a small random sampling of new stuff, so my current understanding of the channel might be off.)

      1. Higher_Peanut says:

        There was an old Extra Credits video about propaganda games which was close-ish to that idea but from a player perspective. If I recall correctly it ran along the lines of “games can affect our perceptions so you should take the time to think about what the game is trying to say or portray.”

        It would be interesting to see it from the developer side and see how you might balance what you want to say (or might be saying incidentally) with the game play experience.

      2. shoeboxjeddy says:

        From watching EC with the old staff, New Frame Plus (Dan without James), and current EC (James without Dan), I feel pretty strongly that I agreed the most with Dan and don’t think super highly of James. Current EC is James (full time industry shill… that’s pretty much his actual job) and the narrator, who seems like a pleasant guy but a gaming naif who pretty much accepts anything James says as the wise words of experience. James needs a strong partner with a counter opinion, a consumer advocate position would be nice. Their loot box episodes were a TRAIN WRECK.

        Cute cat in the new episodes, though.

    2. PPX14 says:

      If you think that, why would you even OFFER players the chance to do something you think is real world wrong?

      Haha many years ago I was about 20 and in a newsagents looking at the magazines, not picking any up, when the shopkeeper shouted from the till several yards away telling me no browsing the top shelf ones. Never mind the fact that I wasn’t even looking at them beyond an occasional glance, why sell them if you’re embarrassed about doing so?

  39. PPX14 says:

    we all know a lot of updates make games better. But the opposite can also happen. Have you guys ever gone from liking a game to disliking it after an update?

    Don’t know about games. Microsoft operating systems and Star Wars films on the other hand…

  40. PPX14 says:

    I think the only other Extra Credits things that I’ve watched is their video on how games should be more than $60, which I remember I disagreed with the premise of because it seemed to ignore some of the main factor that influence the price of a product (it’s not just the price required to fund the production of the product that the consumer wants/expects, as seemed to be presented in the video, it’s more likely also an attempt at an optimal price to maximise income based on how many people will buy at that price). I think it was Extra Credits anyway.

    I haven’t watched the one in question, but I do lament somewhat the seemingly catch-all approach to say German soldiers in WW2 as “nazis worthy of mutilation” that is seen in media sometimes. And conversely it seems a little too convenient for people to just portray Hitler as just an inherently evil baddie who tricked everyone instead of examining the reasons behind why this person formed those views and managed to get into power and influence people. Perhaps simplified presentation of “Nazis” in games contributes to this, perhaps it’s just fun action. The idea of fighting mecha Hitler is excellent though in its absurdity. I loved Kung Fury.

    Hey that’s an interesting thought for a sci fi future. Instead of just age-gating people from consuming media or using substances that might be considered potentially harmful to them as we do in many cases now, requiring ( to a perhaps overbearing degree) that to do or watch something, you must take the VR training first. Want to play Wolfenstein? Take the WW2 history lesson. Want to eat ice cream? Take the diabetes course. Want to go for a run? The prerequisites are the physiotherapy module, the trip hazard module, and the road safety module. Thank you citizen.

    Anyway if the video is actually about being able to play as these ‘morally bad’ people, good grief I certainly hope we can play both sides in these fantasy conflicts! I’ve actually often wondered that – in Rainbow 6 Siege, CS GO, Battlefield 1 etc I presume you can play as the Terrorists / Austro-Hungary? I’m glad of the fact, but I’ve paused to wonder at it just because it doesn’t sound like a thing that would be marketed to Americans.

    Speaking of which, rightly or wrongly, the marketing of Assassins Creed III really annoyed me as a Brit and put me off buying the game, seeing billboards around saying fight for freedom or justice or whatever, with pictures or video of someone killing English/British soldiers. I didn’t like the idea of killing these soldiers being conflated with moral righteousness as if settling a place, killing the natives and then seceding from an empire was inherently good and British soldiers were evil – or moreover that they’d advertise it that way in Britain as if we’re so engulfed in the apparent American media perspective that we in fact share it ourselves! (Never mind that this might well be the case to a strangely large degree.) But I might have the wrong end of the stick – now having heard that he’s part Native American in fact.

  41. Duoae says:

    The only really bad game update I remember basically destroying a game I loved was the battle frame update to planetside (the original). I can’t remember if that was also the update that included the underground core bases as well, but that was also another update that I felt made the game worse and unnecessarily complicated.

  42. Jason says:

    I know this is a super late reply. I just got back from vacation and only finished listening this morning.
    I’m surprised nobody had mentioned Brutal Legend for surprise mechanics. The game starts out with pretty standard 3rd person controls, but part way through the game it starts introducing a real-time strategy element.
    Apparently it turned a lot of people off. I didn’t mind so much. The battles were fairly easy, except for the last few, and they weren’t as big a part of the game as people make them out to be.

  43. Dennis says:

    Necropost, but my audio application picks a weird picture for the Diecast too, this oddly appropriate one: https://imgur.com/a/6M1vxxh

    I have to assume it’s because the diecast2xx.ogg files and the picture are both in the downloads folder, but I’ve got fifty images in there and have no clue why that one is chosen.

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