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.
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