No Diecast this week. Like I said last week, we’re gearing up for a move and things are going to be a little chaotic until we get settled in the new place. However, to fill the podcast-shaped hole on Monday, here is a bunch of stuff that I would have discussed on the show. I know Paul has been playing Obduction and I’ve been looking forward to his thoughts on that, but I guess we’ll have to wait for next week.
So here are some topics I might have talked about on the show…
I Skipped Leg Day
Moving has begun. This is really happening. It didn’t feel real until we started packing crap. We don’t get the keys to the new place for three more weeks, but we’re trying to get stuff done ahead of time. There’s just the three of us – my wife, my son Issac, and me – and so we want to spread the work out as much as possible. We live in an apartment that’s on the second and third floor of a house, and that means a lot of heavy stuff needs to go down a lot of stairs. (And eventually, up a few stairs.) We’re putting things in temporary storage.
I’ve been feeling pretty good about my fitness lately. I’ve got dumbbells and a chin-up bar, and I make a point to do some exercise every day. So I figured that I’d be in good shape for this move. But of course I’ve only been doing upper-body stuff. Yesterday I carried five loads downstairs. My torso was energized like a puppy excited to go for a walk, but my legs were literally buckling. I had to sit to avoid falling down. It’s been twelve hours, and my legs are STILL wobbly.
So now I’ve got 3 weeks to get my legs in shape. Apparently sitting for 16 hours a day hasn’t done them any favors?
I’ve been playing the new Terraria update for whatever reason. This game isn’t really my thing, but it’s got a certain Minecraft-esque charm that makes me happy. I like how you sort of collect NPC friends as the game goes on, which gives you a reason to build housing. They won’t appear until there’s a validA room enclosed by walls, lit, furnished, and not inhabited by anyone else. place for them to live. I’ve always thought this was a more interesting way of populating the world than Minecraft’s system of nameless insular and disinterested villagers. It synergizes with the building mechanics and gradually introduces you to new gearEach NPC offers a few unique things for sale..
A funny emergent story:
I built a pool in the middle of town. As soon as I walked away, a new villager appeared. Lexus the Party Girl! She’s a rare spawn – there’s only a 1:40 chance in her showing up each day, even when you’ve met the conditions required for her to appear. I went over to see what her deal was and what items she offered for sale. But then I saw she’d fallen in the pool and her pathfinding couldn’t get her outNPC buddies are really shy about jumping.. She drowned. Characters explode into chunks when they die, so now my new pool was filled with gore and I was going to have to wait to win another dice roll for her to come back. I was a little miffed.
Then a few days later, I saw the message that the Party GirlThe first name is randomly generated. had moved in. I headed back to town to see that she’d taken MY house. It’s just random, of course, but it felt a little presumptuous. It’s as if she turned up her nose at all the other rooms I’d built and decided she was entitled to the place filled with weapons and treasure.
It’s annoying trying to use your workshop with an NPC pacing around and getting in the way, so I moved her to NPC housing and then left to go dungeon-diving. Once I was deep in the dungeons, I saw the message that she was throwing a party. Again, this is just a random event, but humorously it felt like she was doing it to spite me. Like, “Oh, that asshole FINALLY left! Let’s party!” So now I imagine I’m in a bitter feud with the party girl character.
It really is an adorable game.
I think I’m about done with it, though. I beat the final boss in Normal Mode, which immediately transitions you into Hard Mode. There’s a LOT of game left, but from here it’s mostly just a steady progression of fighting better bosses to get better gear to fight more bosses, on and on for days. My village is complete, and I think that’s the endgame for me.
The Epic Games Store
I did a count, and it turns out I own 83 games on the Epic Games Store! I’ve paid for 4 of them, and the rest were all free games used to entice people to join the platform.
This is what I’ve always said EA’s Origin should have done: Use sales and giveaways to draw new people away from Steam. I don’t like that Epic used timed exclusives to get people to join, but I understand why they did it. Steam is deeply entrenched and the vast majority of Steam users will never step outside of Valve’s walled garden unless you apply some leverage. If you want to break Steam’s market share, then you need to motivate people. I don’t like exclusives, but I understand the utility of them from a business perspective.
But while I begrudgingly accept the need for exclusives to grow market share, I find it absurd that Epic employed those exclusives while their storefront was so shamefully incomplete. EGS is now a year and a half old, and we’re still waiting on so many basic features that should have been there on opening day. I can understand missing stuff like mod support, social features, and the infrastructure for multiplayer and matchmaking through the EGS interface. That stuff is nice, but they’re also big, expensive, time-consuming to develop, and optional.
But a SHOPPING CART? How are they 18 months into this adventure and we still don’t have the ability to buy more than one game at a time? Why don’t we have a proper offline modeI’ve never tested it myself, but I see “offline mode” is on the to-do list.? We don’t have user reviews or any system of consumer communication / feedback? No gifting?
I don’t understand why EGS began buying up exclusives when their store was in such a sorry state, and I don’t get why it’s still so barebones after all of this time. How much does an exclusive cost? If someone was going to give away a game for free to thousands of people, how much would a developer want in return? I suppose it depends on the game, but I imagine it can’t be less than $100k. They’ve been giving away one or two games a week for the last year and a half. Imagine if they just took a tiny amount of the money they’re spending on exclusives, and instead used it to pay a couple of more developers. I know you can’t throw more bodies at the problem forever, but the progress has been so slow and so timid that I’m sort of assuming the team is small enough to still benefit from an extra coder or two.
I know that EGS is now the Enemy Platform and some people will NEVER support the store no matter what they do in the future. But I also believe in the inherent inevitability of Consumer Laziness. I think that for most consumers, all will be forgiven a few months after EGS reaches some basic level of functionality. But that can’t happen until the features are done, and so this mindset of “We will build it if they come” is ultimately damaging the EGS.
“Hey Shamus, cut them a break. Development is hard!”
It sure is! But it’s also way easier when you’re dealing with a small audience. It sucks trying to add features to a system when credit card numbers and personal identities are on the line. It’s hard to add features to something that needs to be online 24/7 and hardened against all possible attack vectors. It’s nerve-wracking trying to rollout new systems when the world is watching and any blunders will end up becoming news stories, memes, and running gags at your expense.
This is all the more reason they should have built the platform before trying to build the audience.
 A room enclosed by walls, lit, furnished, and not inhabited by anyone else.
 Each NPC offers a few unique things for sale.
 NPC buddies are really shy about jumping.
 The first name is randomly generated.
 I’ve never tested it myself, but I see “offline mode” is on the to-do list.
Skylines of the Future
Cities: Skylines is bound to have a sequel sooner or later. Where can this series go next, and what changes would I like to see?
The story of me. If you're looking for a picture of what it was like growing up in the seventies, then this is for you.
Skyrim Thieves Guild
The Thieves Guild quest in Skyrim is a vortex of disjointed plot-holes, contrivances, and nonsense.
The Best of 2011
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2011.
Quakecon 2011 Keynote Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
81 thoughts on “Diecast Unplugged”
I think that the people running the EGS were confused about their goals from the get-go. It would seem that the whole concept was initially banking on the idea of selling PC games to their existing Fortnite audience – people who aren’t necessarily PC gamers, but already have the Epic launcher installed and may be interested in trying some other games. If you look at it like that, you can kinda sorta understand why Epic weren’t in a hurry to introduce some basic storefront functionality – they were aiming at gamers with no real frame of reference when it comes to PC gaming storefronts. Which isn’t, you know, an excuse, but at least makes some tiny amount of warped sense. Then there was the general combative attitude exhibited towards the pc gaming community, the disparaging comments made about user reviews, forums, etc. The message could very well be “We don’t care about all you Steam-loving FPS-obsessed forum-dwelling cavemen, we’ve got an army of freshly minted Fortnite acolytes to sell games to”. Which also gels with the way Epic were actively marketing their store – and pre-existing audience – to journalists and developers, but not customers.
But then there were the exclusives and the freebies that one can only assume were meant to draw existing Steam users to the EGS. There’s clearly some dissonance there, but I still suspect that Epic were always planning on fighting Steam for the next generation of PC gamers rather than the current one.
Before the EGS reveal there was a steady stream of complaints from developers about steam user reviews and the steam forums. It was mostly about the burden of trying to manage them / not being able to deal with percieved unfair behaviour (like review bombing). I read the initial EGS pitch as trying very hard to get developers on board (particularly the big focus on a better share of the revenue) and not so much the consumers.
But you need the consumers on board as well and I don’t really see how that fits with pursuing purchased exclusives.
The EGS mantra from day one has been a Ballmer-esque “developers, developers, developers” parody. They made it pretty clear that customers were of secondary (if that) concern and expected to just fall in line. I don’t really see much of a change in that stance. That’s why they have no compunctions about exclusivity. They expect customers to behave like good little sheep and consume whatever is put in front of them.
The strategy, I think, was to encourage the games media to shame customers into doing ‘the right thing’ by developers. Turn the whole thing into a mini culture war, with Steam users cast in the role of entrenched toxic privilege, and being an EGS consumer making you a trendy exciting wokester sticking it to the man. No surprise then to see delightful individuals like Randy Pitchford taking the opportunity to launder their public personas by fighting the good EGS fight on twitter. For the developers, of course.
Leg day: While squats and lunges are of course the two main ingredients to a good leg workout (and, assuming you have proper posture, also amazing exercises in their own right), don’t underestimate the value of a good hip workout. When you eventually start getting older you’re really going to regret sitting so much if you don’t make sure your hips can handle the strain of simply moving around.
Also, any mention of leg day deserves a obligatory bro science video.
Terraria: I played some Terraria in 2013, but I wasn’t too fond of the heavy focus on combat. While Starbound is a very similar game at first glance, I vastly prefer its way of handling building, crafting, exploring, and all that other stuff that I missed in Terraria.
Of course, 2013 is a long while ago, maybe it’s gotten better? I may give it a look.
Yeah, Starbound is way more my speed than Terraria. It still has bosses, but the progression comes from exportation as much as than fighting boss battles. It has a very Star Trek feel to it, which is also a plus.
I sit on an exercise ball and I find it helps some–it’s a bit more active than sitting on a chair.
Plus, when you’re happy, you can bounce.
Well I do like being happy, and I definitely like bouncing…
As one of the notorious EGS haters, my #1 reason is Tim Sweeney’s attitude and behaviour, in particular the way he boasts about “saving PC gaming”. Like, I know you’re just running a business for profit, you know I know you’re just running a business for profit, so stop insulting me with your futile attempts at convincing me that you are doing anything but.
I always assumed Epic’s stated altruism was aimed at people who aren’t thinking critically about it, or only have passing knowledge of what’s going on. Like, instead of viewing this situation as one juggernaut undercutting another with shady dealings, they take the statements at face value. /shrug
It’s sort of a TechBro thing to constantly proclaim your Superior Future Morality while acting in incredibly unethical ways.
Agreed. The problem is, the segment of the market that was paying enough attention to notice the EGS even existed, but not enough to notice they were being shady/hypocritical, turned out to be quite small. Sort of a high floor, low ceiling problem – tech-savvy people tend to be details-oriented, and doubly so if they’re putting up with the complications that come with playing on PC rather than console.
Yeah, I sadly believe this is true too. For one, the great majority of consumers don’t know about what happens behind the stages. They see a new store propping up and giving free games and love the idea, being utterly puzzled as to why people could be mad at them.
But then some people are just entirely apathetic. They only see immediate personal benefits, so they don’t care about what happens behind the stages, or what could happen in the long run. As long as they’re getting games, any past problems and any new incremental issues are ignored. This is why EA still thrives as a company despite having spent a couple decades being despised by the community for their terrible policies. This is why we have stuff like DRM or loot boxes and nowadays the new thing, which is adding terrible stuff to a game after reviews are in. Because people just let it happen as long as they get their games. Everything else is too much trouble to care about.
Now, I don’t want to look high and mighty about it. I’m guilty of it too. I have dabbled into Origin after saying I wouldn’t again. Granted, EA has done some terrible things, but they weren’t out to destroy everything Steam spent years building. They wanted their slice of the pie, but they didn’t want the whole pie to themselves, like Epic clearly does. When their store was a disaster at launch it was out of incompetence rather than malice.
But I know for a fact that I’m never going to use the EGS, even if Steam is killed. I’d rather go back to piracy than give the EGS any money. I made it a point to never log in to their store to get their free games, even in the rare cases when they were games I didn’t already own. I want nothing to do with that store.
Speaking as someone who is too apathetic to try EGS (as opposed to someone too apathetic to boycott them), these consumer-unfriendly policies feel like minor irritations to me. It’s not that I don’t care at all; I hope no-one ever adds loot boxes to the three or four games I still play. It’s just that there are so many worse things going on in the world. I’m not going to waste my limited energy on bearing grudges over bad DRM.
Same. Everyone deserves a second chance, but the EGS has squandered their second, and third, and fourth, and… chances.
Actually, I take it even further, if a game went EGS exclusive before releasing on Steam I won’t buy that game. Exclusives ruin gaming, and I’ll have none of it.
Same. And the stupid thing is that if they’d just focussed on free games and lower prices (which should be easy, given that they take a lower cut than other stores), I’d have been neutral or even supportive towards them. It’s Tim Sweeney’s repulsive attitude towards gamers, his hypocrisy (e.g. taking a ‘pro-dev’ stance while refusing to allow indie devs to release non-exclusively on Epic), and the insistence on buying up exclusives – including crowdfunded games which were originally promised for other platforms – that’s convinced me I want nothing to do with him or his crappy half-finished store.
And before anyone asks why Steam exclusives are OK with me: they’re not (except on the rare occasions when there’s a good reason why the devs can’t release on another store). GOG for me, thanks.
Exclusives are never nice, but acceptable on the condition that the platform getting exclusivity is either the direct manufacturer or the one who provided the funding to even make the thing. The Bayonetta 2 situation in addition to first party basically.
Sadly, that is not what EGS is doing.
Isn’t that almost always the case? Exclusives are usually paid for, and developers usually agree to exclusivity because they need the money that it brings to finish the game. Personally, I find the idea that “Exclusives ruin gaming” to be somewhat short-sighted. Some of the best games ever developed were exclusives, because it’s one of the main instruments of getting solid investment. Exclusives are an essential part of gaming and a big part of how the industry – and the artform – moves forward. Sure not being able to play a cool-looking game on the platform of your choice is frustrating as hell, but there is a bigger picture here. Now, that doesn’t necessarily apply to EGS, although, in fairness, EGS doesn’t lock access to a game behind a several hundred dollar entry fee.
Not in this case specifically no. EGS regularly buys exclusivity of already made or well-funded games. They pitch it is a bet hedging against people not buying the game.
Sometimes even doing so to crowd-funded games that explicitly promised steam keys after being generously over-funded.
Exclusives that wouldn’t exist otherwise are fine. EGS is demonstrably not that most of the time.
Additionally, the bet hedging aspect goes well into perverse incentive territory, because these exclusivity windows are timed. As Epic guarantees for sales up to a threshold, the developer therefore doesn’t want the game to sell on the EGS, because they are ‘already’ paid for those sales, which would otherwise be additional revenue were they to happen on another platform after the exclusivity window ends.
I wouldn’t say “almost always”, but it’s certainly prevalent enough that people don’t have much of a problem with exclusives in other platforms. It’s generally the case for Nintendo, since exclusives are majorly first party or otherwise funded by them because no one else will.
But it’s absolutely not the case for the EGS. They take games that are already going to be released because they don’t want to take risks. They want to profit of someone else’s efforts. The one time it seemed like they had been the ones responsible for financing the game (which was the bringing of Quantic Dreams’ catalogue to the PC), it turned out they were simply taking the credit for something that was going to happen without them. Because, surprise, they’re also a bunch of liars.
To be fair, my understanding is that Steam’s conditions make it impossible for developers to sell for a lower price on Epic than on Steam. Which if true would make this one of the cases where the all the rhetoric of Steam as an anticompetitive hegemon actually makes sense.
That is indeed my policy as well. I mean, it’s not like I’m hurting for lack of games. I have literally hundreds of unplayed games in my Steam and GOG accounts alone, while I also own multiple consoles. Not to mention that I have the habit of replaying games I like, like the Arkham series or Deus Ex. I could literally stop purchasing games today and I’d be set for years, maybe even decades, considering that videogames are not the only form of entertainment I dabble on.
Granted, people who only buy the latest stuff think I’m crazy, but we clearly have different priorities.
I’ll start by noting that I’ll most likely never use the EGS myself; partly from apathy—yet ANOTHER digital account—partly because I’m on Linux (and while I’ve heard you can run it, I don’t feel like jumping through any required hoops to do so), and partly because I do indeed disapprove of a number of Epic Games’ practices around the whole thing. However (and I want to stress that this is something I think reasonable people can disagree on), I’m not so dead-set against buying previous exclusives when they finally come to Steam. (Untitled Goose Game looked really fun and cute, dash it all! And I’m mildly interested in Satisfactory…)
I’m curious to see how it’ll work out as things start appearing on Steam; if a game “flops” on its Steam release (because people are boycotting it, or have moved on and are no longer interested, or already own it on EGS), will it drive developers deeper into the arms of EG? Will we start seeing pieces from developers about how they would’ve gone out of business (based on sales on Steam release) if they hadn’t taken up EG’s offer? I don’t know. I guess we’ll start finding out in the near future
I doubt we’ll find out, because gamers who care are a small minority.
I did mention two non-ideological reasons people might not buy on the Steam release in my post, and those were just off the top of my head; there could very well be others I haven’t thought of. We shall see, I suppose.
If Steam dies, you still have GOG. :)
After that, I think I’d start supporting more open-source games. OpenRA is better than all of the RTSs that came before Supreme Commander, so why not have open-source Shoot Mans or Spooky Story?
If Steam dies then something very weird has happened to the videogame market and I’m not sure we can trust anything else to work like normal. It’s sort of like saying “If Amazon went bankrupt”: the question is not “What would Amazon’s absence do the world?” but “What happened to the world to do that to Amazon?”
I dunno – here in the UK I’ve seen quite a few large and prominent multinationals, which once looked unassailable, go bust in the last few years. Often it turns out that trouble was brewing under the surface for quite a while, and their auditors failed to pick up on it (I’m an auditor myself, so I hear a lot about these kinds of cases during my professional training). Steam looks to be on top of the world now, but it’s surprising how quickly that can change.
For that very reason, I actually favor public policies that require businesses to have a disaster-data plan, so that customers can keep their software if the company liquidates. But it’s unlikely that any nation on Earth will pass such a law.
Alternatively, Gabe finally has a heart-attack, or decides to retire to a mountain villa on a pile of money.
Yeah. I believe Valve is an extremely unstable company. This is due to it being 1)a privately held company 2)the completely flat management hierarchy and 3)it being worth billions of dollars. When Gabe dies (which is 100% certain to happen) I could easily see a fight over control and all that money. Even if there is an ironclad will and everything has been completely locked down, I still see a fight. Some huckster could claim to be an illegitimate love child etc. Someone somewhere is going to litigate and extort money. 1% of a billion is still 10 million. It’s worth it. Even if the money to pay for lawyers has to be raised on a venture capital basis, it is still worth it.
Should be “add features to somthing”.
Well, how would you feel if someone left you out in a pond, watching idly as you drown? If I were you, I’d be thankful she didn’t file a lawsuit!
That pool should have had guard-rails and staircases to escape!
And sharks, to clean up the gore.
Yeah, what is this, Star Wars?
I feel like this happens with every game store. I remember the exact same “You had Steam sitting there for a decade and you couldn’t even copy the other kid’s homework” critique being made of Origin, Uplay, Microsoft’s store, GameStop’s store… at some point it stops looking like random incompetence and instead becomes an institutional failure. I’m wondering if there’s some weird corporate incentives problem the way there is with e.g. writing where it’s not prioritized and they hire a bunch of mediocre people for the job because they’re not in the storefront business and have no ability to evaluate what sort of employee would be good at making storefronts.
In a manner of speaking, yes. The problem is that many features can’t be directly traced to an easily-accounted profit.
No, it doesn’t make sense – it would be as if a grocery store decided that the Bread department isn’t going to be exclusive so we won’t sell bread and will instead demand our butchers sell us meat before anybody else. And also, bathrooms are not really profit centers and not worth charging for, so we’re dropping that. And also, why should we have to offer grocery carts? Customers can just carry their purchases.
We need a name for this ‘podcast but as text’ format.
It’s basically just a transcript of what he would’ve said out loud, a sort of podcast log… how about naming it a “plog”?
I feel it sound better as ‘better-log’, or blog for short
That’ll never catch on.
It’s a legible conversation…….legislation?
I’m kind of OK buying things on the EGS when they’re not exclusives (which was my main issue), but they are cheaper / on sale. I’ve bought a couple of games that I’m curious about, but not curious enough to pay full price or care much if they suddenly disappear. In the case of Ashen, I think I might not even notice?
A big part of that was the fact they finally implemented a rate limiter for downloads, so I don’t get lynched by other members of the household because the TV show they were watching is suddenly in 240p.
I’m still annoyed Steam can’t auto-limit itself, if there’s lots of other traffic on the network. Like, I’m already prepared to wait for this download, that’s why I started watching YouTube videos…which look amazing in 144p…
Maybe I don’t understand your issue, but in Steam > Settings > Download, you can set a maximum bandwidth available for downloads.
That only works if I have a speed I always want Steam to be limited to, at all times. At night when I’m not doing anything on my computer, it should go as fast as my internet pipes allow. When I’m doing more important things, Steam needs to slow itself down. That’s not something I can assign to a static number.
This is a much harder problem to solve than it looks like.
First of all, Steam would have to know your maximum possible download speed. As in, the actual speed available at this very moment, because throughput can vary from time to time, location to location etc, especially when you are connected over a shared medium (e.g. cable) or one susceptible to outside influences (e.g. wifi). In practice, you usually determine that speed by… downloading without limiting your speed and measuring how fast it turns out to be.
Then it would need to know how much of the actually available bandwidth it can use for itself, and how much other programs need right now. This, too, is not a constant, so it would have to be reevaluated all the time.
Meanwhile, setting a fixed limit serves most people fine enough (the only issue I have with Steam’s setting is that you can only select one of a number of predefined speeds and not type in any custom number).
P.S.: I am not well versed in this area, but there is such a thing as “Quality-of-Service” features in various, OS, router etc that can give certain types of network traffic priority. I don’t know if or how to utilize these for the purpose, but maybe they can indeed be used to set Steam’s downloads to a lower priority?
Furthermore, if you keep any limit set (even above your actual connection) just clicking on the throttling information on the download screen will open the setting to change it without the need to go to the settings.
I don’t understand the importance of the shopping cart per se. However, I can understand if it’s taken as a reason to doubt the robustness of more critical components in the store, same as when the store crashed while giving away GTA:V a couple weeks ago. That also revealed that when the website goes down, some games will become inaccessible (and even to attempt, I needed to launch the executable directly rather than go to your library, because the EGS app wouldn’t launch without phoning home). An offline mode wouldn’t fix games that think they need to phone home.
Regarding Shopping Cart:
Well for starters, depending on your bank account/payment serice, you may be incurring some overall fairly hefty additional charges per transaction. If it’s the middle of a summer sale or something, and you within a half-hour period buy a dozen games at less than $10 each, but get slapped with a transaction fee for EACH ONE, that gets less irrelevant than you appear to think.
Then there’s the fact that on a complete store, as you are browsing, looking at things you think you might want to buy, you can with a single click put them in your shopping cart, and then seamlessly return to browsing. And then, at the end of your browsing, you get to look at the Total you’re going to pay, before you pay it, and can do things like rationalise items against each other, if you have a budget of any kind that you’ve managed to exceed, or whatever. Things like that, are why shopping carts are good.
Convenient and helpful for the customer, as well as legit time and money saving. Others may be able to come up with even more reasons.
The ability to stop in the middle of a planned shopping session for any number of unplanned reasons, and remember exactly where you were when you get back. Surely I haven’t been the only one to need the bathroom in the middle of browsing a steam sale. Also less steps, which is more than convenience.
As Shamus said a couple times convenience is king and the need to go through the transaction process every time, particularly if you’re buying in bulk during a sale, is plain annoying. There are also some more practical concerns, some customers could, for example, be charged a per transaction fee by their service provider (I don’t think it’s common nowadays but still a possibility) and during Epic’s first sale some customers have actually run afoul of their banks’ protections meant to prevent using stolen card information (triggered by multiple small transactions to the same receiver in a very short time) as well as, hilariously, Epic’s own similar security measures.
I mean…. How could anyone have predicted that people would actually willingly use their store?
They’ve taken an interesting approach to sales since then. In addition to any % cut you get a “one time” voucher for 10$* or a rough equivalent for any one game at or above 15$ or equivalent. However, using the voucher during a purchase gives you another one, effectively trying to turn the “one purchase at a time” thing into a sorta feature?
Shamus mentioned the cost of exclusives but I’m sure just a fraction of the money they’ve given away on these vouchers alone would have covered the expenses of adding a shopping cart and unless there’s something absolutely alien about the Epic Store tech doing so is not exactly rocket science. What I’m saying is at this point it seems like a conscious design decision possibly trying to leverage the vouchers as another way to establish a userbase and expand customers’ libraries, thus making them accustomed to using the store and client, by burning Fortnite money.
*During the first sale Epic specifically said that this is them sorta “giving you money” and not taking it from the devs’ cut, not sure how it’s been since then on the financial side of things but I assume it still applies.
Thanks for responses, y’all! I have not felt these various pressures, at least not when using EGS, so this is helpful.
Best Diecast ever. To bad Spooner couldn’t be in it as well…
You’re right, EGS is the enemy of my enemy, but that don’t make them friend. In my case they suffer from the same fatal flaw I assign to Steam, I don’t trust them to own my games for me.
Nitpick: ” I can understand missing stuff like like mod support…”
Ya, GoG is my go to nowadays – dunno when I last bought something on Steam – cos they let you download standalone installers and the patches for games as well, and just Keep Your Games, yourself. GoG also help with things like optimising games to actually run, which is a super nice thing that Steam absolutely does not do.
Kills me that this current conflict or whatever is being framed in terms of Steam vs. Epic. Neither of them are actually particularly good.
This is because Steam is the main player and Epic is the one trying to take its place. Notice how when Epic negotiates for exclusives in many cases that doesn’t mean just that those games won’t be available in other stores but theirs, but that they will be available in all stores but Steam. They’re obviously actively trying to harm them, so of course the conflict is between them.
Now clearly if we’re going by the way they treat customers, GOG is the clear winner. Unfortunately, they do lack a few features, even basic ones, like being able to edit reviews, and obviously they don’t always get ahold of the latest releases, so you really can’t treat them as competitors, particularly considering that they specialize in older games.
You probably transitioned to Terraria from Noita?
I never got into the EGS controversy, so I don’t have any really strong feelings about it. I have 22 free games (4 of which I have never even installed), and 2 that I purchased. Overall, it does what I want from a game store, which is to let me download and install games. If anything, the lack of EGS features and proliferation of storefronts seems to have incentivized more developers to implement their own stand-alone modding and save sharing systems, which is a pleasant upside.
In my view, that’s a straight-up downside. It means I am dealing with a hundred separate systems with no coordination or compatibility.
The one thing I most notice when using the EGS is the lack of patch notes. When I try to start a game and it decides it needs to update, I’m generally interested in what’s changed. Steam helpfully has a button to take you to the game’s news page, which may have said info (90% of the time, but theres a few which don’t bother updating said page), but Epic requires you to go to whichever site the game is using for communication, which can be harder to find.
Not related to anything in the post, but grab-bag thread seemed like the least invasive place to drop this:
I wrote a user script (e.g. TamperMonkey) that lets you collapse comments in this comment section – it adds a “hide” link next to the “reply” link, which collapses the comment (and replies) down to a single line. I mostly wrote it for fun, but I think it makes the comment section a bit easier to navigate.
I’m also planning to add some support for highlighting new comments since your last visit.
That is really cool! Running it right now. Thanks!
EDIT: It’s possible to hide the reply box in a chain by hiding a parent comment. Choosing “reply” to another comment gets it out, but also causes some strange behavior. Doesn’t seem to actually break anything?
Thanks for the note about the reply box, I hadn’t tested with that. I’ll have to see if there’s any way to handle that a little nicer…
I’ve been playing quite a bit of Terraria as well, I really like the new update’s changes to how NPCs and buildings work, which I’m a little surprised Shamus didn’t mention.
In previous versions, the most convenient thing to do was just to throw all NPCs into a giant “apartment building” at spawn, so that you have access to all of them at once. It was the most mechanically convenient thing, but really boring from a design perspective.
The new update discourages this: instead, you’re encouraged to build a base in each biome, and put a few NPCs in each area; which gives you access to “pylons” which allow you to teleport between those bases. It both makes building a lot more interesting, as more small bases are easier to do interesting things with than one massive mega base, and alleviates a lot of tedious traveling from the game.
Not to mention all the emptied rooms from when you built extra houses for random NPCs are easily repurposed into extra storage. Ready made, real-estate is just sweet.
I’m still in the camp that I will never use EGS because I don’t trust them, something something China, and I don’t like Sweeney. But even then I don’t think the free game thing will work out. I’ve had my Steam account for 15 years, have 286 games and I would wager that at MOST I’ve gotten 25% of them for free over the years (honestly probably more like 10% but I’d rather be over than under). I actually got to a point where I stopped going for free games on Steam, or provided from Humble Bundle, because I was tired of having these games I only had the smallest interest in and rarely if ever played filling up my library. Now this is the smallest sample size ever and means next to nothing but my personal buying habits have me buying 75% of my games on Steam whereas Paul bought 8% of his on EGS while Shamus bought 5% of his.
I feel like at some point people will reach a point where they just don’t care about the free games anymore, especially if they find they’re rarely if ever actually playing them. I know Steam has a bunch of bloated garbage on it but honestly I love the huge library options. I recently got into Hidden Object Games and due to a sale got 6 games for around 18 CAD. I’d never even considered them before but I’m enjoying them as a zen game.
I actually prefer the Unplugged version of Diecast (ironic considering that I hate unplugged and acoustic versions of songs), but then I’m not really a podcast person.
I am a podcast fiend, but I will admit that consuming media while multitasking makes for easily loosing the thread as you get distracted/concentrate. That’s why I prefer the text versions of the This Dumb Industry releases (sorry, I know it’s a lot of effort to make the videos, and an eternal debate as to whether they are worth it), as reading forces me to pay attention.
I think what we’re saying is, we need a transcript for every podcast?
I don’t know whether it’s a large camp, but I mostly go for scripted podcasts, both fiction and non-fiction, rather than unscripted ones. I listen to the Diecast every now and then if something in the notes catches my interest. Unscripted podcasts can get a bit too unfocused and meandering for me. Make no mistake, the Diecast is better than many in that respect, but still doesnt quite work for me personally. The problem is, I think, is that podcasts lack the limitations of radio in terms of time constraints and commercial breaks that force a broadcaster to learn to keep things tight.
> This is what I’ve always said EA’s Origin should have done
They did in fact do this for a few months. However, unlike Epic’s offerings, EA’s selection of purely third party games was much more limited and thus their free give aways were largely limited to much older titles like Dungeon Keeper. Celeste, Arkham Knight, GTA friggin’ 5, they’re all a little more compelling to a bunch of games from the late 90s and early 2000s of which many do not properly run without hitting PCGamingWiki to find a patch.
Having said that, hopefully a cart and an achievements system will come some what soon. 100%ing a game is a challenge plenty of players seek out, and it’s annoying not to have that option with anything you get from there. I doubt most games are handling the code in a way that allows the achievements to be ‘backported’ once that feature gets added, either.
I also bought my first title on the store with the $10 coupon, and Control still hasn’t been patched a year later to remove the bug that was even in initial previews of the game where after the first 10 minutes of gameplay the textures can just decide to not load in unless you repeatedly open the in-game menu. This feels like maybe a sign of how titles on Epic on treated when major bugs go basically unaddressed until the game hits Steam.
I hope you continue playing Terraria. Pre-Hardmode is mostly what was in the game at release in 2011, and 90% of what’s been added since then only shows up in Hardmode. Pre-Hardmode is also kind of boring compared to Hardmode due to the limited traversal mechanics available. Almost all of the game – including entire gameplay mechanics, several biomes, and most of the fun bosses – still lies ahead of you. Granted it’s mostly combat, but it’s fun combat once you’ve unlocked flight.
(I hate the Hardmode moniker. It gives entirely the wrong impression of what it is. It’s closer to moving from the tutorial level to the actual game, considering the relative size of each.)
I’d also suggest checking out the new Journey mode. It’s the most interesting version of Creative Mode I’ve seen in a sandbox game so far – it’s basically the regular game, but you can acquire and sacrifice a certain number of each item to unlock infinite duplication of it. Duplicated items lack modifiers so they’re weaker than what you’d find/forge yourself, and the amount of ore needed to unlock duplication is mostly balanced so you’d unlock it around the time you’d be nearly done collecting it normally. You can also slide the difficulty from normal all the way up to master mode at will, and even toggle god mode/control the weather if you just want to see the game’s content.
Yeah Shamus, tough thing with legs is that they’ll be wobbly on you for a few days after the first tough workout. Should feel better in 3-4 days, but I’d recommend taking it easy until then. As someone else said, some squats, some lunges, you’ll have a few tough recoveries at the beginning but after a few of those workouts your muscles will catch up and you’ll quit feeling like collapsing for a couple of days after a work out. And when you get to a point where squats and lunges start getting easy, all you gotta do is pick up and hold some of those dumb bells you’ve got to up the intensity again. Just be careful to maintain good posture.
I’d hate to inflict this upon you Shamus, but I’m now really looking forward to a future “Shamus rants about the offline mode of the EGS” post.
It’s funny, I always read EGS as Empyrion: Galactic Survival. Funny (annoying) how wires cross sometimes.
I haven’t bothered with Epic Games’ store. Too much high school drama over there for my taste. I did, however, purchase Outer Worlds from the very similar Microsoft Store. It was decent enough, and I had fun with it. Noah Caldwell-Gervais on YouTube mostly echoes my thoughts on it.
I didn’t get to finish it, though. A bug on some space station made the game crash whenever I tried to enter a room and start an automatic dialogue. Being a good boy Steam user, I went for answers on the forum. Oh, no forum. I check for dev news. No dev news. I should submit a bug report at least… but I never found a way to. I couldn’t so much as track down an email address on the store page. I bought a game from a big van that read MIcrosoft on the side. By the time I found it didn’t work, they had seemingly skipped town.
I’ve never had this happen with a Steam game. Now that I think about it, I think I might actually spend as much time on Steam forums as I do playing games through Steam. It’s the most ready source of access to players having a similar experience to me as one could ever find. It’s also a pipeline to a game’s public face, often even the developers themselves. Being denied that for Outer Worlds really highlighted how valuable this kind of community access is.
I saw this from the other side with Subnautica. After Epic gave out copies to their users, the Steam forums were rife with people looking for gameplay and technical help. We didn’t really mind. From our perspective, Epic had simply decided to give the maker of our beloved undersea panic simulator a bunch of free money. And after Epic left them high and dry, we little crabs were happy to help the Epic Games’ store users back into the comfort and safety of the Steam bucket.
I know a lot of developers put their game on Epic Games’ store because the financial calculus pushed them to opt for the lower cost per unit in terms of retailer cut. My hope is they eventually realize you get what you pay for. Being on Steam simply makes their game more valuable to customers like me. If Epic wants to really be a competitor to Valve as a retailers, they need to start making things better for customers, not just developers. I can ignore a game I’m interested in to avoid a tangential headache. It costs me nothing if developers commit some boner than puts me off their product. The failure of any particular game means almost nothing to me. There are just too many games already. If your game is going to be obtuse to buy, well, I wonder what’s next in my Steam queue.
I agree that EGS need to up their game in terms of features/functionality. There was bound to be a significant gearing up and development lead time, but I would have expected new features to be flowing by now. There have been a few new features recently, we’ll see if it is the start of a steady stream from the pipeline or whether they remain a trickle.
I really don’t get the vitriol about it all though. If there is one thing the EGS backlash has proven to me is that they totally needed the exclusives to have any chance at all of growing. Steam has such a dominant monopoly that there is incredible resistance to a newcomer trying to build a significant market share.
As a part time games developer, Steam really, really need a good competitor. Steam’s 30% take may once have been fair but they have been shafting developers for years now.
I think it’s less resistance to a hypothetical newcomer building up market share (which doesn’t hurt anyone, and the competition involved can help everyone), and more resistance to certain business practices by a certain newcomer, which do hurt people (delaying game release by a year is, admittedly, fairly minor in the grand scheme of things, but at least some of those games were apparently the product of crowdfunding, which directly impacts the people who donated money for them).
Like, EGS hypothetically getting 50% of the online games retail market doesn’t bother me at all, in any way shape or form. It has no impact on me at all as a non-user, so I don’t care. Epic Games keeping me from playing Untitled Goose Game for a year, on the other hand, feels like a direct slap in the eye because there’s no technical reason they couldn’t also release it on Steam, it’s a purely profit-based decision.
If some new platform came along who demonstrated actual concern for consumers (by, say, offering a better user experience than Steam and not mandating exclusivity to sell on it), I bet there’d be a much more positive reaction.
I wouldn’t have much issue with the exclusives if it weren’t for A) the extreme length and B) the high profile snatches they were performing in the beginning.
To address point A: It is reasonable for a company to want a competitive advantage in the market, particularly if they front money for the product’s development. It is also reasonable for developers to focus all their effort on a particular platform (PC, XBox, PS4, Nintendo) and either ignore other platforms completely or address them after they make their initial profits on their main platform. But Epic is buying such a long lead time before having to worry about competition that they are effectively locking same platform competitors out of the market. Gaming releases tend to receive most of their full-price sales within the first couple weeks to months of release with sharply declining sales numbers over time. By the time a game has been out for a year it is often showing up during sales for 50% or more off release price. As well there is typically little hype for the game as most of the market is now looking at the next big release. Personally I’ll probably have forgotten about the game by this point.
On point B: There were a few high profile snatches at the start of the Epic Games Store that really soured me on their storefront. The most significant was Metro: Exodus, a game which was literally weeks from release when Epic swooped in and snatched it from Steam and locked it to their platform for a year. Luckily for me I had prepurchased (yes I know a lot of people hate that concept but if you plan on purchasing day one anyway…) and retained it on Steam. Another was The Outer Worlds which even months after switching to Epic still had not corrected their promo trailers on their Youtube channel to remove the Steam logos.
Those two points combined with Epic’s behavior when it was just a games dev/publisher make me leery of using them as a storefront. I currently own all of 2 games on EGS and one of them is FortNite because it looked interesting back when it was only a 4-player co-op game. I stopped playing FortNite when the co-op population dried up as a result of the Battle Royale mode being released and the devs essentially ignoring the PvE portion of the game.
I’m not completely against EGS but they really need to work on making their user experience at least match Steam’s functionality a decade ago before they become a viable competitor in my eyes. As a consumer giving a larger share to devs/publishers is not enough of an incentive for me when weighed against the negatives. I wouldn’t mind making a purchase on EGS instead of Steam with devs cut as a factor if the game were available on both platforms. But until they cut their exclusivity period to something more reasonable to competition it will remain a non-factor.
Interesting. I’ve never considered the steam forums a particularly valuable resource. Actually, when I’m looking for game info, I dread seeing Steam forums at the top of the list of search results. It reminds me of the GameFAQs forums where it’s as likely to be filled with unsubstantiated opinion and arguing as much as useful advice. Community wikis tend to be the best, and reddit threads (with their upvote downvote system) tend to be be a second best, in my experience.
I dunno, I’ve found Steam forums to be a great source of troubleshooting info. I’d say that whenever I have a technical problem with a game, 3 times out of 5 I’ll find the solution on Steam forums. The other 2 times it’ll be Reddit.
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