Diecast #296: Everything is Fine

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 6, 2020

Filed under: Diecast 69 comments

I hope everyone is safe and healthy this week. Here’s an hour or so of us whistling in the dark and waiting for the quarantine to lift. Enjoy!

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.


Link (YouTube)

Show notes:

00:00 COVID-19 is also hard on introverts?

I keep hoping this quarantine will start paying off, but according to this chart, the number of cases in my regionPennsylvania. isn’t just climbing, but accelerating upwards. I was really hoping that after 2 solid weeks of closed businesses and empty streets we’d see the growth curve start to even out a little.

Our hospital hasn’t maxed out yet, but they’re starting to feel the pressure. They actually solicited masks from the general public. My wife has been sewing new masks for the last couple of days. Obviously homemade masks aren’t going to have the same filtering capabilities as ones made from medical-grade material, which means the nurses must be down to the point where their choices are homemade, or nothing.

She’s got a good sewing machine and a good pattern to work from. The hard part of making masks right now is getting materials when all the shops are closed.

09:29 Figment

Link (YouTube)

19:42 Hob

Obviously the most practical way to learn more about Hob is to watch a Joseph Anderson video about it:

Link (YouTube)

29:20 A new YouTube griefer / troll strategy?

On further reflection, it’s possible this person is just another eager creative trying to raise their profile, and I’m just a cynical grouch that’s been burned one too many times by Google’s takedown bots. Here is the redacted email so you can judge for yourself:


My name is **** *****, and I make a lot of music under the names ***** and “********” (formerly “*********”).

I watch a lot of YouTube in my free time, and I stumbled across your channel! I’m really into video essays, and I’ve always found the gaming industry fascinating. So the Youtube algorithm sent me your channel, and I really enjoy your videos!

I was wondering if you were looking for music to add to your videos? I make some Chill / Lofi Hip Hop (********):

Soundcloud Example: https://soundcloud.com/************

Spotify Example: https://open.spotify.com/track/***********************

I also make a lot of happy, energetic Future Funk and Vaporwave (************):

Soundcloud Example: https://soundcloud.com/***************

Spotify Example: https://open.spotify.com/track/********************

My music is allow listed for Youtube, so it should be good to go, and you shouldn’t have to worry about Copyright stuff. In fact, some of these tracks are already being used on Youtube (for like more general music channels). And feel free to look around my profile! All of my stuff released in 2019, 2020 should be good for Youtube! All I’d ask is just add a link in the description back to my Spotify profile. :)

Let me know what you think! Looking forward to hearing from you!

The other thing to note is that all of their content seems to be about a month old, as if this person uploaded multiple albums in multiple genres to different sites all at the same time. Maybe this is a new hustle on a platform rife with hucksters, or maybe it’s exactly what it says on the tin.

I honestly don’t know. I’m looking forward to what people have to say in the comments.

38:36 Stadia Pro: 3 months for “free”

Paul forgot to say so during the show, but the third thing wrong with Stadia is that even if he had the correct hardware, and the correct controller, Mobile play is disabled right now.

Also, here’s the LTT video I mentioned on the show:

Link (YouTube)

That’s not good.

53:05 Mailbag: Old Fallouts

Dear Diecast,

I am a huge fan of Fallout: New Vegas, however, everything grows a bit stale over time. I am considering purchasing Fallout and Fallout 2, but I am hesitant because they are really old and while I love Fallout: New Vegas, I can’t stand Fallout 3 or 4. Furthermore, Shamus has said some of the problems started with Fallout 2, but I have never heard anyone talk about Fallout 2 unless they were rightfully moaning about what Bethesda did to Jet. What were some of the major issues that started with Fallout 2? Should I deep dive into the original games or mod the everloving hell out of Fallout: New Vegas? If the latter, do you have any recommended mods?

Sincerely, Ty

1:01:23 Mailbag: Sound Setup


I suppose, it’s more applicable to Shamus, but may be Paul would be happy to add his take as well?

We often talk about graphics in games, but rarely about sound (except music). I myself started to care about it, only when I bought a good headset few years ago and learned the usefulness of 3d positioning (plus, noticed small details in songs, I missed before).

So, I actually want to ask you two related questions:
a) Which audio setup do you use? Audio card, headset/loudspeakers/etc?
b) Were there any games, which audio/sounds you place in very high regard?

Best regards, DeadlyDark



[1] Pennsylvania.

From The Archives:

69 thoughts on “Diecast #296: Everything is Fine

  1. Joe says:

    I remember Hob. It was from the Torchlight team. But I’m very much not a puzzle gamer, so I gave it a miss. Sadly, the studio closed. They put out three indie games in ten years. Not even breakthrough hits. God only knows what they did for money. However, most of the staff moved over to a studio developing the TL MMO, which IIRC was set up by the founders of the first studio. And then became a regular non-MMO ARPG like the others. I don’t know what’s going on there. That’s my take on Hob.

    I haven’t played Fallout 1 & 2, but I’ve seen some videos. It looks like the combat system was later borrowed and improved by Divinity Original Sin and Wasteland 2. Is that right, or am I confusing it with another game?

    I recently bought some speakers. Logitech, probably lower-middle in quality. I selected them because they were identical to my old ones, down to the right-hand speaker being louder than the left. Go with what you know, right? But now, YT is noticeably quieter than other sources of sound. I’ve looked through all the options I could find, everything seems kosher. Just have to keep the speaker with the volume knob within arms reach.

    Episode download speed: back to normal. Are people no longer waiting for the episode to release? I have no idea.

  2. Tizzy says:

    I played Fallout 2 when it came out, and immediately after I played the first one. I remember at the time being struck and disappointed by the contrast between the two games. Briefly: A lot more superficially better game, that did not satisfy.

    More precisely:
    1. Fallout 2 had an improved the interface and engine. I can’t remember the details (except companions — a larger party, and Fallout 1 barely had any companion interface, you couldn’t even get in their inventory if I recall). Visible iterations for games that literally came out a year apart were very common at the time.
    2. The game was a lot bigger. More bang for your buck, true, but it really diluted the experience. Fallout 1 had a very tight main story that managed to stay your topmost concern as you went on random adventures. The large size gave the game a lack of focus and tone.
    3. The humor fell flat for me. The first game is hilarious gallows humor in a self-contained, tonally-consistent alternative history that mines 1950’s paranoia for atmosphere. The second was wacky (ghouls with Tommy guns indeed!) It relied way too much on jokes about its own lore (navel gazing) or pop culture references (Tom Cruise / Nicole Kidman expys with Scientology jokes — why!?).

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I’m pretty sure the companion interface and limitations were the same, between Fallout 1 and 2. Maybe they had a new conversation-option, to open their inventory, but in the first game you could hit the barter button and it would work just fine, and for a faster transfer, you could just “steal” from them, to use that interface (it needed fewer mouse-clicks).

      1. Chad Miller says:

        No, it wasn’t even close. Fallout 2 completely overhauled how companions work. It’s probably the most significant mechanical change in the game.

        * In Fallout 1, there was no companion limit and no carry weight limit for companions. Fallout 2 had a companion limit based on charisma and encumbrance applies to companions.
        * Fallout 1 only allowed vague commands like “stay far in the back” or “draw your best weapon next battle”. Fallout 2 had a whole AI setting full of sliders for things like how much they should care about friendly fire (god DAMN it, Ian!) or whether they should use chems in combat.
        * Fallout 2 let you decide what equipment your companions wore. Fallout 1 companions’ weapons could only be controlled indirectly via trading, and they couldn’t equip armor at all.
        * Fallout 1 required you to trade possessions with companions via the Barter interface. This also meant that if your barter was low enough you may have to buy back your own stuff from your sidekicks.

        I’ve read that the Fallout 1 developers expected companions to be temporary and not accompany you for the rest of the game, and were surprised at how much effort people put into trying to carry Ian and Dogmeat through the entire game. Which would explain why they didn’t care how nigh-impossible it was to keep anyone through the endgame. Fallout 2 became much more of a party-based game, which also shows in how much more memorable the companions themselves are.

        1. Chris says:

          I remember that in order to get back stuff from your companions you had to use the steal command.

          1. Chad Miller says:

            You could use Steal instead of Barter, yes. The point is, there was no concept of “party inventory”; if you gave items to your followers, it was like giving stuff to any other NPC.

            1. Echo Tango says:

              But there was no penalty for taking it back from companions. It was “stealing” from your companions, but stealing from NPCs, which would end up with all the guards trying to murder you.

              1. Chad Miller says:

                Ah, that makes sense. Truth be told, I’ve never beaten the game without 100% Barter which means every NPC in the game will sell you stuff for less money than they would spend to buy it from you, which basically meant “infinite money” by the time you get to the Hub. Which in turn means infinite skill books and most non-heavy weapons and armor up to Combat Armor quality once you get to the Hub. I always had a ludicrous stack of (weightless) money and chems to get whatever I wanted from my companions.

        2. Mr. Wolf says:

          You missed the best addition to the interface. “Talk to the hand”, which made them back off in no uncertain terms.

    2. Chad Miller says:

      1) A couple other major improvements included highlighting all allies and enemies automatically (this required a perk in Fallout 1) as well as greatly improving the bartering interface. FO1 let you have basically infinite money with about 30 Barter, if only you could put up with the interface long enough to act on it, while FO2 made the Barter skill actually balanced and fixed some of the interface’s worst annoyances. That all being said, both games are dinosaurs by modern standards.

      2) The large open world certainly did the story no favors, but the bigger problem is that the main quest is basically “Fallout 1 but it makes less sense” with a last-minute villain that isn’t integrated with the greater world at all. Part of what made Fallout 1’s main villain cool is that they seeded at least some of his story in every single location starting after Junktown or so, yet left his appearance and motivations to the imagination so they could still have something to put in the final confrontation. In Fallout 2, the Enclave’s presence amounts to:

      * Randomly kills a family in the opening cinematic
      * Randomly kills another family in a mandatory overworld encounter, where they inexplicably don’t attack you and instead walk away
      * One optional sidequest (as in, there are four mob families you can join up with and only one interacts with them at all)
      * Randomly attacks you if you go to parts of the map you have no reason to go to until after the endgame starts

      Fallout 2 is very “modern open world” in the sense that you have the open world which is nearly all the content, and then a main quest which feels like it’s only there because someone felt it was supposed to be there but not that anyone would actually care about it.

      3) This is another thing that doesn’t age well, and I think you understate just how obnoxious the Hubology stuff is. I think it’s also a good example of how FO1/FNV wacky differs from FO2 wacky. Take another faction clearly inspired by a silly joke, the Kings. The Kings have someone asking the question “What if Las Vegas’ tradition of Elvis Impersonators were somehow carried into the wasteland by people who took it way more seriously than it was meant?” You have “The King” talking like Elvis, hairdressers to get the style just right, unusual clothes, occasional song references, but also people who act realistically like a collection of poverty-stricken locals.

      In Hubology, you have someone who clearly just wanted to recreate Scientology but in Fallout. So you have all these levels and “donations” and propoganda. And it was founded by a guy whose name is just close enough to L. Ron Hubbard to not get sued. And given its presence in modern-day Hollywood, it needs celebrity endorsements. The entire concept of a Hollywood celebrity makes no sense in this universe, so we’ll make them porn stars, because in two games the only art anyone makes is porn. And we’ll name them after Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (but just different enough to not get sued), even though that doesn’t have any in-universe reason to happen either.

      This isn’t the only place the jokes work like this. In New Reno you have boxers named after Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, and of course not-Tyson’s only character trait is biting ears off. There are multiple overworld encounters just straight up quoting Monty Python and the Holy Grail verbatim, and if you rebuilt the car, it’s going to end up on the other side of a ravine for no reason because you will answer the bridgekeeper’s questions so we can tell our jokes, dammit!

      That’s not to say that FO2 has no interest in worldbuilding at all; it’s actually one of the best games in the series for explaining “why is this city here?” (except, oddly, for the hometown your main character is trying to save). When Fallout 3 wanted to have a plot about “rich people”, they put them in fancy modern-day clothes and had them talk like old money in a world where old money by definition can’t exist. When Fallout 2 wanted to do the same, they had a Vault perform 100% to expectations, dropping people with modern-day comforts and technology into a world where everyone else is cobbling together whatever they can out of scraps. New Reno is a fun collection of sidequests even if incongruous with the rest of the game, much like Goodneighbor in FO4.

      But most of FO2 is jokes, and most of those jokes fall under “I want to tell this joke. How can I barely justify it?” rather than FO1 and FNV’s approach of “Let’s drop this jokey thing in the world. Now what does that world look like?” A lot of people seem to like FO1: Wacky Wasteland and consider FO2: Even Wackier and Wastelandier to be more of the good stuff. But the “roleplaying” part of the series is seriously undermined when your character no longer has even a world to inhabit, even a silly world.

      Some other things that undermine roleplaying: FO2 is actually the first game in the series that puts words in your character’s mouth without your input. But they didn’t give the main character a consistent personality either. In fact, not only do they not make up their mind who your character is, they don’t let you make up your own mind either. Early conversations give you literally no way to avoid talking like a sarcastic teenager, yet when it comes time to talk about the faux-mystical Chosen One garbage you’re not allowed to express the slightest skepticism. Sometimes you’re a cargo-culting savage while other times you scoff at the idea that more urban people treat you like some kind of primitive. You live in a leather-hut village with no indication that you’ve ever left it, but somehow you’ve seen The Silence of the Lambs. You can be a total brute who’s killed every villager you’ve seen the entire game, but still be pressured into a shotgun wedding. You can go full Paragon and yet you’ll leave not-Short Round at the bottom of a well because one of the writers thought it was funny.

      Another thing that’s hard to overstate is just how pervasive this stuff is. You’ll finish an encounter with the Brotherhood Knights of the Round Table, roll into New Reno and have Cassidy mention “some pre-war comic book,” only only to wander into a casino where a stand-up comic cracks jokes about your character sheet and then meet The Masticator in the basement. Fallout 2 is very averse to ever letting you forget that you’re playing not just a video game, but a video game made in the 1990s. Which is also especially pertinent when talking about playing it in 2020. I mean, not only is Nicole Kidman no longer married to Tom Cruise, she’s not even his latest divorcee. Tyson v. Holyfield is no longer that crazy thing that happened last year. Monty Python references are so passe in nerd culture that it’s become passe to joke about how passe they are. And so on.

      Fallout 1 has some timeless qualities, to the point that I wish every RPG quest designer would play it at least once. Fallout 2 is very much a relic of its time, and took some serious steps backwards even then.

      1. Tizzy says:

        Delighted that you were able to add so many details! 1998 was a long time ago, my memory is bad, and though I tried to play those again recently, I just didn’t have the patience. Can’t step in the same river twice and all that.

        A couple of things that your post reminded me:

        1. The vault dweller origin of Fallout 1 is superior to the tribal origin of Fallout 2. The vault dweller has pretty much the same background knowledge of the world as the player. In Fallout 2, the player is given very little background on what a tribal may be. And the use of tribal trials (whatever they were called) for the tutorial feels uninspired and too generic to really flesh out the tribal society.

        2. Fallout 1 had some pretty random wacky shit, BUT, the most memorable stuff was the high LUCK random encounters. Which means that in a playthrough, you’d run into maybe one, unless you were really out looking for them and specced for it. So I’d found out about them on fan websites, and had a good laugh about all of them (the Nuka Cola truck, the Godzilla footprint, the UFO) without being bombarded by those in-game and it breaking my immersion. Fallout 2 on the other hand appeared terrified at the idea that you might miss any of their jokes.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Also note, the tribal-start-zone is difficult if you’re playing as a combat-focused person, and almost impossible if you’re trying to role-play a scientist, salesman, or any of the other non-combat stuff. The last time I tried to play Fallout 2, I think I had to cheat my way past that section. (And then gave up anyways, because of the horrible barely-funny-at-the-time pop-culture references, which are as Chad points out, totally out of date now.)

          1. RFS-81 says:

            Is Science actually useful in Fallout 2? I’m still angry at Fallout 1 because I picked it as one of my main skills for my first character and it allowed me to lecture farmers on crop rotation and to hack computers on the first attempt. (You have unlimited attempts.) Oh well, interesting choice syndrome comes with the territory in old CRPGs.

            1. Echo Tango says:

              I think it’s an alternate way to get a few things, like super-weapon-upgrades (instead of bartering for them, or persuading a discount), armor upgrades (same thing), several communication paths (just like the first game), and some other miscelaneous skill-checks. Overall, I think combat was still the strongest, and everything else was sort-of useful.

            2. Chad Miller says:

              Yeah, you can CTRL-F this guide: https://fallout.fandom.com/wiki/User:Porter21/The_Nearly_Ultimate_Fallout_2_Guide

              The biggest uses are probably the sidequest to cure Jet addiction and using it to build the best version of the Robobrain companion.

          2. jpuroila says:

            You’re overstating the difficulty. If you actually make a character with decent melee or unarmed skill, it’s not very difficult at all. And if you abuse the fact that spear gives you reach(spear has range of 2), it becomes easy. Also, you can avoid fighting most of the scorpions and some of the ants.

            1. Echo Tango says:

              The original game let you pick any of the combat skills, not just unarmed or melee (your starting-weapon was based on your tagged skills), and you only had to run away from a few rats, not scorpions, ants, land-mines, and a melee-oriented human who’s literally there to test your combat skills. In a vacuum, that’s beatable; In the context of a game that’s ostensibly about a wide variety of role-playing options, that’s a bullshit encounter.

        2. Chad Miller says:

          I played both last year. If it’s not obvious, I enjoyed one far more than the other. :) I’ll actually go so far as to hate it when people call them “The Original Fallouts.” To me it’s like if someone the first two Star Wars trilogies “The original movies” when comparing them to the sequel trilogies, Rogue One, etc.

          1) I think the tribal thing could have been great if executed better. I doubt that will ever happen now because a) Bethesda probably won’t let a third party make another Fallout and b) They already came back to this well in Honest Hearts and it wasn’t so well received there either.

          I definitely feel like there’s a neat conversation to be had about the fact that technology and resources (= wealth) wouldn’t be equally distributed in the post-nuclear world, and seeing people literally bombed back to the stone ages living right next to scavengers trying to approximate the old world creates an interesting contrast in the same way that Vault City, the Enclave, and to a lesser extent New Reno contrast to the wasteland as a whole. There’s even a dialogue option early in the game where you can sardonically explain to someone that just because you live in a hut village doesn’t mean you don’t know about technology (via trade and documentation).

          The problem is that they instead used it to create a village of Magical Natives, using the universe’s establishment of psychic powers as a fig leaf to make them prophets, having them behave like a cargo cult even though the exposition establishes that some of them had lived in Vault 13 and so it’s not entirely plausible that they’d just forget civilization like that. So what could have been a neat worldbuilding opportunity instead became sacred holotapes and the Holy GECK and oh my god I just remembered this stuff accounts for literally all of the early game’s voiced dialogue.

          Not being able to identify with the Chosen One as strongly as the Vault Dweller is also a thing, but the problem is “your character knows nothing about the world and neither do you” is a trick that you can only pull once. What bugged me more is that the opening exposition doesn’t even try to address questions like “If some of you were alive when this village was founded, why aren’t you even considering moving?” That’s one of the first questions I asked when I found out the plot was “all of our crops and livestock are dying”. Their plan A is “find the Holy GECK according to prophecy,” there’s no plan B, and then this entire plot is completely ignored until they’re proven entirely correct in the very last stretch of the game.

          (As to the tutorial; if anyone is reading this, hasn’t played Fallout 2, and still wants to play it, don’t give up before the tutorial. Everyone agrees it sucks. According to rumor the publisher made them put it in the game at the last minute. People who like this game don’t like the tutorial. People who made this game don’t like the tutorial. It’s awful.

          Actually the entire beginning part of the game is probably the worst part, except maybe the 9-room puzzle in the “final dungeon” which is on my short list of most hated levels of all time. You start in the awful tutorial, then you go to the most buggy town. Most Fallout games have some super buggy part that they clearly didn’t have time to playtest, but Fallout 2 takes the bold step of making this town the first real town in the game. You’ll find yourself thinking things like “Did I do something wrong?” or “Is that it?” often. Along those lines, consider looking up the “Restoration Project” mod.)

          2) Completely agreed here. Finding, say, a downed not-Enterprise shuttle complete with a phaser as a one-off is fun. But that Monty Python bridgekeeper thing I made such a big deal about? They actually put their thumb on the scales such that just about everyone gets it in the first 1/3 of the game, and it’s pretty much just a reenactment of the original scene. Maybe Cassidy’s “pre-war comic book” would have been fine as a one-off line when you recruit him and not ambient dialogue that you’ll see countless times when using him as a party member. Maybe the Silence of the Lambs joke would have worked if they didn’t have the character in question go on to explain the joke, making it all the more obvious that your character couldn’t have possibly had the context to make it. Maybe if they’d cut like the worst 80% of the jokes then the other 20% would have been better given the extra room to breathe.

          1. Syal says:

            For what it’s worth, I thought the low Intelligence version of the bridgekeeper was a good twist and pretty funny.

      2. Echo Tango says:

        This is why references are terrible jokes, and much more suited to proper easter-eggs. If they’re totally optional, it’s a neat little piece of trivia if you know what they are, but you won’t be confused if you don’t know the reference. Having them be integral parts of the normal story and world, means all of that stuff now fails, after pop-culture has moved on.

        1. Esher says:

          Back in the days most players in Russia(including me) didn’t get a lot of references made by developers in Fallout 2. For me it was just another joke or quirky moment, like pornstars promoting a religion, were just pornstars promoting a religion. And it felt like a first game, just bigger, funnier and longer, an improved version of some sorts.
          Now, due to me learning more about American/Global pop-culture(and just growing up in general), I can clearly notice the difference in tone and world-building between Fallout 1&2. I think that the first game has a better story and themes than it’s sequel, it shows the true Nature of Wasteland.
          Despite all of that I still prefer to play Fallout 2 from time to time, drive my chrysalis highwayman out to the west. It always brings a pleasant nostalgic feeling.

          I’m just trying to say, that sometimes not getting a reference, could be a good thing.

      3. Mr. Wolf says:

        I personally think that absolute nadir of Fallout 2 encounters was the Unwashed Villagers. What’s this? There was a troll of your message boards? Well let’s just immortalise that for all time! I’m sure the 99.99% of players who weren’t there will find it super entertaining.

        I wish I could find the video interview with Tim Cain where he talked about pop-culture references in Fallout 1. He knew they’d get dated very quickly, so mandated that they were only acceptable if they made sense without getting the reference. The example he used was the Slayer perk, which was apparently a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference, but the name arguably makes more sense without involving Buffy.

        1. tmtvl says:

          You may be thinking of the Fallout postmortem from GDC 2012.

  3. Lars says:

    Reading the E-Mail, I thought maybe its ledgit, but with all the contend beeing uploaded at the same time I went right back to It’s scam.
    Is the E-Mail adress any good? Does it contain one of his art names?

    1. Syal says:

      Is the old name also only a month old, or is it just the new names and he’s moving everything over? (Although that’s kind of a weird thing anyway, most people are reluctant to change a brand name.)

      That’s a weird way to censor the email, blocking all the advertisements but leaving the guy’s name.

      1. kunedog says:

        That’s a weird way to censor the email, blocking all the advertisements but leaving the guy’s name.

        Is Twenty-Sided a legit website, or a long-con scam to virally promote Shamus’ true identity, ***** ******?

        Note: This post was edited by Shamus to redact the name.

      2. Shamus says:

        I meant to block out everything, but overlooked the possibly real name. I even scanned over it twice to just make sure I got it all, and for whatever reason I somehow didn’t notice the real name at the top.

        I am an idiot.

        1. kunedog says:

          Uh, it kills my joke but you should probably edit the name out of my post, too. Actually, just delete it if you want.

    2. Shamus says:

      So this person gives:

      1) A real name
      2) A handle
      3) A different handle
      4) A third handle, similar to #1 but not the same
      5) An email that is totally different from any of the above, in the format of “[email protected]”.

      So I dunno.

      1. Steve C says:

        Feels like a scam to me. I could easily see music uploaded to a license clearing site. So that your videos using that music receive copyright claims. That’s assuming he created the music. It could be lifted from elsewhere and repackaged. Which again means copyright claims against your videos.

        I would steer clear. Even if it is not a scam, it is fairly risky. Best to err on the side of caution. Especially given the poor ratio of benefit to potential cost.

        (But your outro music on the vids isn’t great.)

      2. Son of Valhalla says:

        As someone who writes music, I only have two personal music handles, Far Star 12000 and my own name.

        When I write acoustic music, I release it under my name. When I write electronic music, I use the Far Star 12000 name.

        If they have more than 2 handles for their music and a different email for their name, either they aren’t confident with their music or they’re scammers. I know this because I spent years doing this. Not the scammer part… But the 5 artist names part.

  4. kunedog says:

    I’ve already thoroughly ranted against streamed games before, so I’ll just link it instead of repeating it here:

    A couple of things that (newly) annoyed me about the Stadia launch coverage specifically were a) repeated reference to an assumed “streaming future,” almost as a fait accompli, and b) comparison to streaming video (YT, movies, TV).

    With of much coverage/commentary it’s hard to separate propaganda from geniune misunderstanding, but publishers have been pushing streamed games for so long (and they have so much to gain from its “perfect” dead-mans-switch DRM) that I just can’t take “streaming future” seriously.

    People who geniunely believe that working streamed games should only be a step or two behind working streamed video are more plausible . . . for example, people who compare internet speeds that work well with Netflix/Hulu and reason that games should work well on the connection too, without considering latency, etc. So I’ve tried to think of a good way to explain it to them, and this is what I came up with:

    From the moment you select a (non-live) streaming video to play, most every bit from the beginning of the stream to the end is known, or can be (barring the invocation of features like automatic on-the-fly quality/bitrate adjustment). The entire movie/show/vlog can and will play without any further user input.

    Games in general are completely interactive on the level of seconds and usually milliseconds: i.e. in an FPS it often isn’t known what the screen should look like even a tenth of a second from now, so the dumbest thing you could do is make everything rely on passing (a round trip) through an internet connection.

    I see why publishers will always push this customer-rights-raping tech as aggressively as they can, and I see how startups like Onlive might do it to con investors out of a fortune. What I don’t understand is how Google could go as far as approving and launching a physical hardware product, except for the most simplistic explanation that no one at the company ever cared, because they have a bottomless pit of money.

    1. Geebs says:

      The really bizarre thing about the latest streaming go-around is that internet infrastructure hasn’t even improved all that much *for most people* in the last seven years since OnLive tried. The current “internet rationing” climate demonstrates that it’s still not feasible for everyone to stream games, even if Google had the server capacity – which it doesn’t.

      The push for streaming on mobile was completely doomed, as well. My guess is that somebody told Google that mmWave 5G was totally going to be a thing by now, and they ramped up for a launch to capitalise on it just as it became apparent that 5G is both a) lies and b) late. The sort of AAA games Stadia’s touting lose all of their impact, and control terribly, on a mobile device, anyway, so I don’t really see this catching on until we all have folding phones that can expand into a 10” screen when needed.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Streaming straight to a stand-alone VR headset would solve the display size problem. You could over-render the peripheral in low res, and let the headset do panning on the data. Wouldn’t get paralax data, but better than nothing.

        1. Geebs says:

          Now you mention it, Google could totally have leveraged Cardboard to do the “big virtual screen” in VR thing with Stadia, and it’d have been pretty darn cool*.

          Shame they killed cardboard before they even rolled Stadia out.

          * for certain limited values of cool. Mobile phone displays aren’t necessarily low persistence, which makes for some unexpectedly nasty, smeary VR.

      2. Liessa says:

        I was always skeptical about streaming, but the internet infrastructure problem has really hit home for me recently. For the last few weeks I’ve been working remotely through TeamViewer due to the quarantine / lockdowns, and talking to friends and family using Zoom. While both of them work pretty well, there is noticeable input lag even with simple things like editing documents and spreadsheets – and this is in London, with a good ethernet connection on both ends and unlimited data. I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to play a game that way, especially over a dodgy wireless or mobile connection.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      My hunch is that Google wanted to monetize streaming games in every way possible; I mean this is basically the same thinking behind the continued console wars. If Google just made a streaming service that works with anyone’s controllers, phones, computers, etc, that’s just money left on the table. So, they made their part controllers for this.

  5. krellen says:

    Two things about “the curve”:

    1. SARS-CoV-2 has an incubation period of 14 days, possibly more, so two weeks is too short a period to see any flattening as we’re not yet seeing the cases that haven’t happened because of it.
    2. Numbers will probably continue to go up for some time, as our testing rates were abysmal early on, and much of the growth in cases is having new cases identified by increased testing.

    I think people in charge understand this, for the most part – which is why the stay-at-homes were extended through April in most places.

    1. Michael says:

      A study published last month (using cases of people traveling out of Wuhan, so it may be somewhat out of date) found the median incubation time (defined as time from likely exposure to onset of fever) to be 5.1 days, with 97.5% of those who develop symptoms doing so within 11.5 days. 101 out of 10,000 will develop symptoms after 14 days.

      So a two-week lockdown is/was possibly feasible.

      1. Thomas says:

        I don’t think a two week lockdown is sufficient for full control because in most countries the lockdown isn’t a hundred percent efficient. If you lifted the lockdown just after the peak your still have a lot of people with the infection in circulation and it would start growing again immediately.

        The US (or New York at least) is definitely curving off, and Italy has passed its peak. Looking at Italy, it looks like maybe a 5-8 week lockdown total to get the virus back at a containment level? I guess that will differ depending on when you started locking down and how easy it is for the virus to transmit in your country. Norway got the virus under control much more easily than the denser European countries. The US has weak public transport and lots of rural regions, so perhaps that means it will have an easier time.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          True, but a lot of the big danger zones are out of play. Schools are in online mode for a good long while (my university won’t have faculty face-to-face with students until August). Most public gatherings have been canceled. Heck, all the churches I know are out of commission for Easter weekend, which is a pretty big deal.

          Of course, it’s not 100%. We’ve had folks with cabin fever playing cornhole in the parking lot all weekend. Pretty loud about it, too.

          1. Thomas says:

            There’s just deliveries and grocery shopping and all that stuff too. The lockdown has definitely worked – you can see it in Google’s mobility data, in the Imperial College new modelling of the reproductive rate in locked down countries, and in actual cases.

            But its still not the impossible ‘everyone sits in their room for two weeks’ lockdown which would theoretically wipe out the virus in a fortnight. In the messy real world we’ll need to manage the landing a bit more carefully

    2. Wolle says:

      In Denmark, we shut down everything (well, a lot of things) four weeks ago. We started to see the flattening in the number of hospital submissions a week ago, and are just now starting to see a flattening in the death count. Number of infected people is highly unreliable due to insufficient testing capacity, so that isn’t really meaningful.

      So yes, 14 days is not enough to see results.

  6. John says:

    I love the original Prince of Persia. As a kid, I was always a little dissatisfied with other platformers. For example, it always bothered me that I could change the direction of my free-fall in games like Metroid. Looking back, I can understand very well why the designers would implement something like that, but at the time it irritated me tremendously. (I have no idea why I wanted realism in a game like Metroid.) Prince of Persia, by contrast, had physics that were, if not realistic, then at least plausible. That’s one of the things that made Prince of Persia my favorite platformer, though the wonderful rotoscoped animation and the fact that the platforming didn’t make tremendous demands on my reflexes or dexterity (unlike, it must be said, some of the fencing) probably had a little more to do with it. I haven’t played the game since at least 1994, but I suspect Prince of Persia would hold up well today. It’s the kind of game with the kind of backstory that could be released today–a stylish, one-man platformer!–to modest internet fame if not necessarily to commercial success.

    Prince of Persia is actually very slow, as platformers go. (It had to run on an Apple II, after all.) There is almost always a delay between the player’s inputs and the Prince’s actions because of the game’s animations. In, for example, a Mario game, Mario leaves the ground the instant the player hits the jump button. In Prince of Persia, on the other hand, the Prince doesn’t leave the ground until the jump animation is complete. Because the jump animation consists of a couple of extra-long strides before a leap, the player has to input a jump well before Prince comes to a ledge. This, thankfully, is not particularly challenging, since the Prince’s run is more of a jog than a sprint and the input window is fairly large.

    I do not think it is true, as Shamus seemed to suggest, that the game defers the leap until the Prince reaches the ledge. If the player makes a jump input when the Prince is already at the ledge, the Prince will run off the ledge before the jump animation has time to execute and he will, unfortunately, fall rather than jump. It’s also possible to jump too early. According to various design documents that Jordan Mechner has released over the years, Prince of Persia’s levels are tile based, which should not surprise anyone who has played the game. I suspect that the jump animation is timed in such a way that it covers a certain number of tiles and that as long as the player makes the jump input while the Prince is running through a tile the correct distance from a ledge the Prince will always jump exactly from the edge of the ledge.

    1. Chris says:

      Changing your direction in free-fall is called air control. Castlevania for example didnt have it, and a lot of people complained about it since it feels really clunky. The sightrange is not really big, so it could be possibel you were running towards a pit and jumped over it, only to see an enemy appear from offscreen just as you jumped. But you couldnt move backwards so you were stuck jumping into them. Or if you had to jump on a tiny platform that wasnt a full jump away from the previous one. You could overshoot it and have no way to correct. If i recall right mario bros really popularized air control. Seeing how pretty much all modern platformers have it, I think people dont want to do without.

      1. John says:

        Ah, I couldn’t quite remember whether or not Super Mario Bros. had air control, so I didn’t mention that game. It apparently didn’t bother me as much there as it did in Metroid, possibly because Super Mario Bros. levels are largely horizontal while Metroid has some notable and lengthy vertical segments. In other words, I think I did a lot more deliberate free-falling in Metroid than in Mario and so I remember the air control more distinctly in that game. The fact that Mario is cartoonier than Metroid may also have something to do with it. I never spent any significant amount of time with Castlevania.

        In any case, I don’t deny air control’s utility. It would indeed be very annoying not to have it, especially in one of those platformers with the floating platforms that move from side to side. I’m honestly not sure what the deal with my junior-high self was.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          It’s kinda funny that it bothered you more in Metroid, since Samus’ power armor might have some sort of micro-thrusters for midair adjustment. Mario has no such benefit, other than cartoon physics.

          Art style matters, folks!

          1. John says:

            To be completely fair, I also played a lot more Metroid than Mario. I’ve actually beaten Metroid. I think. I definitely beat the final boss and saw the ending, but I could have been playing from someone else’s continuation code. I never got more than a few levels in to Super Mario Bros. I absolutely spent more time thinking about Metroid than about Mario.

            In addition to the art style, I think the tone of the two games was also a factor. Super Mario Bros. has, basically, a non-story and is set in a nonsensical Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland kind of a place. Odd, impossible things are normal there. Metroid’s story is sparse but it’s also played pretty straight. Samus–almost typed Shamus!–could theoretically have some kind of thrusters in her armor but they aren’t depicted in the graphics and there’s nothing in the story or the mechanics to suggest that they might be there other than the fact that air control is possible.

            Then there’s Capcom’s Duck Tales, which I have only just remembered now. Duck Tales had air control. The air control did not bother me. I played a lot of Duck Tales–unlike the other games I’ve mentioned, we actually owned a copy of Duck Tales–and beat it multiple times. There is absolutely no reason or excuse for air control in Duck Tales. Scrooge may technically be a duck but he’s never been able to fly. So I either got over my air control hangups at some point or else cartoonishness trumps all.

    2. Olivier FAURE says:

      I feel the same about Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee.

      There’s something about semi-realistic 2D platformers with tile-aligned movement that you just don’t get from 3D platformers, or even regular Mario-style 2D platformers.

      I really wish that genre had a revival.

      (and don’t get me started on the Oddworld reboots)

  7. Mark says:

    Shamus, I’m not seeing what you see to indicate an accelerating growth curve on that website you link. In fact, if you go to the state projections page that website links to, it looks to me that the growth rate in PA, while still positive, does seem to actually be decreasing, which matches other projections I’ve seen as well for the country as a whole.

    So, conversely, I think it does look like the quarantine’s been paying off! We’re still at least a week, if not two, from the peak, but at least the peak is in sight now. Hopefully we can get people to stay apart even while things are getting better, so we don’t have a resurgence right away.

    1. Shamus says:

      Context: We recorded this Saturday night, and so my knowledge was based on Friday’s numbers.

      But yes, things do seem to be turning around. Or if not turning around, at least getting worse at a slower rate. Very encouraging.

      1. evilmrhenry says:

        Weekend numbers are usually lower than weekday numbers. This is mostly a testing issue and not a real decrease.

        1. RFS-81 says:

          The number of positive test results doesn’t tell you anything anyway, outside of a handful of countries, like South Korea. You could look at the trend in new hospital admissions for COVID-19 (as long as your hospitals aren’t overcrowded :/) instead, but it will take longer for countermeasures to show an effect there.

          But anyway, hang in there! After two weeks of don’t-call-it-a-lockdown here in the Netherlands, hospital admissions were still going up, but supposedly slower than without countermeasures. Now they’re reporting fewer new hospital admissions every day!

          1. krellen says:

            So my state has this tracking done – the important thing to note is that they are tracking positive tests AND tests done; as the article notes, as long as the curves of the two are roughly the same, any increase in cases is likely attributable to increased testing, not necessarily increased spread.

      2. ivan says:

        For context, in Australia, specifically the state of Victoria, where I live, we’ve been locked down fairly tight for quite a while longer than you, and in the last half week or so we’ve started seeing negative growth in case numbers. As in, there are still new cases diagnosed/reported, but less than there were yesterday.

        From what I recall its been about 3-3.5 weeks, or something, for us.

  8. Lino says:

    Paul, I didn’t know your brother taught martial arts! What kind does he teach?

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      He’s a 5th degree black belt (Master) in Taekwondo and taught that for years. Had to go to Korea to do his final testing, and trained with the Olympic TKD team while he was there. From there he moved to teaching gymnastics for a few years. He actually has his own independent studio now, doing “ninja” training which is focused on obstacle course training. But it’s easier to just say “he teaches martial arts” than explain all that.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I’m not sure what it says about me that I was hoping to hear you had misspoken — that, in fact, your brother is a justice of the peace and specializes in the marital arts.

  9. Chad Miller says:

    Re: New Vegas – in addition to the forced linearity*, I also don’t love that they put an obvious goal in one direction and then put the required path in the other direction. You know from the beginning that Benny was headed toward Vegas, but you’re told that, oh yeah, Deathclaws set up shop, like yesterday so he had to go the long way around the map. In effect the game says “Oh, you know what you want is in New Vegas. You ready to go there? Huh? Are you ready?” and then a Deathclaw tears you in half and the game says “WELL, TOO BAD. GO TO PRIMM.”

    *unless you know about the secret passage through Black Mountain which is actually pretty easy to do in one go once you know about it

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Dang. I always died in Black Mountain too. Is there a reliable way to avoid the super-mutants?

      1. Chad Miller says:

        Trigger the boulder trap, back out to let the boulder pass through, then follow the path the boulder came from. This lets you dodge the entire base aside from one patrol, and you can easily time things to avoid that patrol even if your Sneak is garbage.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          There’s a frickin’ boulder trap? How much else have I missed? :O

          1. Nimrandir says:

            I saw the boulders in motion, but I wasn’t close enough for me to register them as a trap.

    2. Thomas says:

      I enjoyed that, just because you can sneak to Vegas if you know what you’re doing. It’s nice to have a journey with a goal, and even better if you can cheat that journey.

    3. jpuroila says:

      You can also grab the stealthboy from the schoolhouse and sneak past the deathclaws. Or if you’re not insistent on going straight to New Vegas, you can skip the southern half of the map by heading through Primm Pass where there’s only one deathclaw(killing a single deathclaw is doable at level one, provided you brought enough explosives – which you can acquire from powdergangers).

    4. GoStu says:

      I found that it worked for me *because* Benny had to go around too, showing that this isn’t just a player-specific inconvenience. It’s a pain in the ass for everyone; if my memory serves there’s some miners and the like who can’t work because of the deathclaws. The same imposition they’re making on the player also applies to the rest of the world, and I can write it off as Fair.

      Of course, as you know, if you did somehow find your way past all the nasty monsters the game would play fair and roll with your success. There’s a lot of other games that’d just lock the doors of New Vegas in your face until you’d completed some quest point in the town of (NewVegas -1) and would throw up an insurmountable NPC excuse like “door’s locked”.

  10. Dev Null says:

    I was really hoping that after 2 solid weeks of closed businesses and empty streets we’d see the growth curve start to even out a little.

    If it makes you feel any better, the best estimates Ive seen say it’s about a 15-day incubation-infection-detection cycle. So it’s about now that you should _start_ seeing the effects of your quarantine.

  11. The Nick says:

    I have a lot of “good” headsets that are in the “entry-level” upper tier level of quality, but interface terribly with my hardware setup. In contrast, some old USB headset I used to have that wasn’t quite as high quality but could just be plugged in and listened to without any setup ended up being the one I missed the most.

    I know for one RTS game, Company of Heroes, suddenly having a high quality headset *immediately* made me a better player. It turns out the unit callouts were recorded differently depending on the distance away your view is from them – “close by” versus “in the distance”, with more distance coming in over a radio that became more tinny and out of focus as the distance increased.

    Further, there was 3D positioning to the sounds. Hearing an engine meant vehicles, but each engine was unique. But it turns out you could tell the exact direction the engine was coming from. Being able to tell the direction of events or determine encounters and gunfights based solely on audio cues became an ingrained tactical feature that the game doesn’t teach you about or even recognize, but being a player who invested a ton of time into the game who “upgraded” audio, I noticed the difference it made.

    I wonder how many other games used audio in such a way, versus how many used it relatively poorly. Unlike visuals or UI, you just don’t see (hear?) talk about these audio features that much.

  12. Math says:

    Please tell me my audio was glitched and that I did not hear Paul pronounce “noir” as “no-ear.”

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