Diecast #306: Better News

By Shamus Posted Monday Jun 29, 2020

Filed under: Diecast 105 comments

We didn’t talk about it on the show, but yes, I’ve seen the new trailer and gameplay videos for Cyberpunk 2077 that surfaced while I was busy schlepping my worldly possessions to a new home. It’s all very impressive, but it doesn’t change much. I was already 100% sold on this game.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

00:00 Just set up.

An hour before the recording session started, my office was a bare box. Hard floors. No curtains. No furniture. An hour later we had my furniture in here, my ridiculously complex PC + audio equipment + external drives + power setup was ready, we had curtains on the windows, and blankets on the walls to dampen the echo. It all came together just a couple of minutes before we started recording. I’m amazed it worked out.

No pictures. I cringe to look at it. Aesthetics come later, once the rest of the house is done.

02:32 Paul played LOTRO

Hopefully he’ll get a little further into the game. Also, like I said on the show: I’d like to hear anyone’s first impressions of this 13 year old game. If you give it a try, please tell me in the comments! Also, here is the writeup I did on the game back in 2010.

Here’s the examination of Classic WoW I mentioned on the show:

Link (YouTube)

12:24 Shamus’ Move

Short version: This new place has improved my life in many unexpected ways.

Long version: Listen to the show.

18:24 Paul’s Job search

Good luck at the interview!

22:29 Mailbag: Question for Paul

Dear Diecast,

Hi! It may be an odd time to ask this question (and an odd question at that), but I recently thought about it:

Paul, what was the main reason you were hired to work on the Shadow of the Conqueror film? Did it have anything to do with your scathing (yet interesting), long-form critique of the book? No offense, but I find it kind of weird that you were hired to work on a property you’ve been publicly critical of. What does the rest of the team think about it?

Keep being Awesome,


P.S. Once again, I’d like to wish you guys the best of luck: Paul with job hunting, and Shamus with lowering his blood pressure. It really sucks how the Internet doesn’t give us a lot of opportunities to help each other in situations like these. Hey, maybe that could be a question for the both of you: if we could use phones to teleport like in The Matrix, how would that work with the Internet? How would Twitter look like :D

Here’s the video on MuseScore I talked about on the show. Worth a watch:

Link (YouTube)

32:40 Mailbag: Low Spec Gaming

Dear Diecast,

I mainly game on PS4, but occasionally I put my underpowered laptop through hell to run some games right on the edge of playability. I think the worst I’ve ever tolerated was pushing through Scanner Sombre where the fps would often dip into the 15’s. So Diecast members, what’s the lowest you’ve sank to play something you otherwise probably shouldn’t have? Or have you never had the pleasure of being a low spec gamer?

Thank you,

44:46 Mailbag: TTG Online

Dear Diecast,

Hi! Hope you’re doing well! I’ve got a question about Tabletop RPGs (TTRPGs) – which, unfortunately, is mostly aimed at Shamus. Sorry, Paul! I’ve tried playing RPGs myself, but it turns out that playing them just isn’t for me (it’s a long story).

However, I love talking about TTRPG design, as well as reading about TTRPG campaigns. But no matter how many I read, the one about Mar Tesaro is the best one I’ve ever come across (I still reread it from time to time). Now, Shamus, you’ve described the obstacles you have with running a TT game nowadays (health, schedules, players in different states, etc.). However, have you considered running an online TTRPG with your friends? Nowadays, there are a literal ton of resources geared towards it – from sites like Roll20 and Tabletop Finder, all the way to worldbuilding resources like World Anvil.

I realise this question is kind of personal, so I won’t mind it if you choose not to answer. I just thought it was a natural workaround to your burning hatred for all things small, cute and furry.

Keep Being Awesome,


Also, here’s the link to the old TTRPG campaign Paul mentioned.

48:53 Mailbag: Egypt: Old Kingdom

Dear Diecast,

Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Egypt: Old Kingdom, a strategy game set in ancient Egypt which prides itself on its historical accuracy and its educational qualities. The endgame is based on a period of history called the Bronze Age Collapse, during which a mysterious group known as the Sea People repeatedly attacked Egypt. The historical Sea People temporarily conquered northern Egypt. In the game, the Sea People are an endless series of increasingly large armies who will keep coming until every single Egyptian everywhere is dead. My question is this: did the game get history wrong by exaggerating the danger posed by the Sea People or did it get history right by giving me the same sort of visceral, deep-seated fear of the Sea People that at least some of the ancient Egyptians must have felt? What would you say it means for a game to get history right?



From The Archives:

105 thoughts on “Diecast #306: Better News

  1. Paul Spooner says:

    The text of “Mailbag: Egypt: Old Kingdom” appears to be missing. I’ve pasted it in below.
    Also, here’s the link to the old TTRPG campaign I mentioned:

    Egypt: Old Kingdom
    Note: This one sat in my inbox for a month for some reason?

    Dear Diecast,

    Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Egypt: Old Kingdom, a strategy game set in ancient Egypt which prides itself on its historical accuracy and its educational qualities. The endgame is based on a period of history called the Bronze Age Collapse, during which a mysterious group known as the Sea People repeatedly attacked Egypt. The historical Sea People temporarily conquered northern Egypt. In the game, the Sea People are an endless series of increasingly large armies who will keep coming until every single Egyptian everywhere is dead. My question is this: did the game get history wrong by exaggerating the danger posed by the Sea People or did it get history right by giving me the same sort of visceral, deep-seated fear of the Sea People that at least some of the ancient Egyptians must have felt? What would you say it means for a game to get history right?


    1. John says:

      You know, I tried to keep that question short. I really did! I edited the heck out of it. I know that neither you nor Shamus want to spend your podcasting time reading somebody else’s essay.

      Thanks for posting the text, Paul.

      1. Lino says:

        I know, right! I try to be as short as possible with my own emails. I press “Send” thinking to myself “Wow, that was short and to the point, wasn’t it?” And then, I see my email on the site, and it’s this huuuuge wall of text!

    2. Platypus says:

      I was a low spec gamer until December 2018 where i first bought myself a pc rather than used a hand me down. I usually avoided games where i couldnt get above thirty fps but i did struggle through mafia 3 which chugged down to 20 when i was in a car. That PC port was just garbo tho and even when i tried it with my new machine which was way over min specs it could barely maintain 60. Shame too because i really liked the game part, the setting and the story but the performance , bugs and visuals just drag that game down. GTA 5 has far less compelling mechanics and story yet i still play the online with my gf ocassionally because just driving around that beautiful rendition of LA is still a joy.

  2. Chris says:

    I’ve started playing LOTRO yesterday. Didnt finish the tutorial yet (went to bed before the quest that ended it).

    Im a big fan of classic wow, and im one of those people who felt alienated as the devs moved away from traditional game design. With old wow you can still see a lot of the leftovers from tabletop RPGs and people not knowing how to make MMOs. For example the stats are poorly quantified (how much does spirit give you?). Or damage of time effects couldnt crit, meaning a class built around damage over time effects didnt get as much from spell crit chance as someone who used direct damage spells. You had crazy stuff like a potion that gave you 10 seconds of invulnerability from a level 25 quest. Or a mace in the gnomeran dungeon that ends up being really powerful for level 60 characters because of its active effect. But over time, to make the game easier to balance and because every class wanted every mechanic, it became a soup of sameness.

    What’s interesting is that the video you linked is that at some point he mentions old games and how they have mechanics modern games would never put in. And then seems to want to extend that point to classic wow, but he never does so. If you have a lot of time left over, there is also a podcast of some guy that interviewed the class designer on every class he made, as well as an environment designer. The videos are 3 hours long, but its usually a half hour to an hour where they interview the designer, the rest is just useless fluff.

    As for LOTRO. The first impressions are mixed. I wanted to play a warden only to find out its a class locked behind the paywall. They cost 795 funbucks and the lowest amount you can buy is 700. The next lowest is 1500. Then there is also a store link on your UI at all times. I wish they had the decency to at least put it in the ESC menu or something. But during character design things were a lot better. I loved how you actually can chose where youre from, rather than every human being the same. Then they even bother telling you about the naming conventions of the people in that region. The different regions also have different visuals, for example a man from Bree cannot have a dark skin, while a man from gondor can. Meanwhile only men from rohan can have blue eyes. Im sure that in current year that isnt acceptable, but i like the concept that you have different phenotypes for people around the world. There is little customization of your avatar, but i guess korean MMOs have ruined me. Talking about korean MMOs, its nice that changing gear is shown on your character.
    The world itself is beautiful and you can tell a lot of love was poured into it. It was a bit silly that at the start of the game i was busted out of a prison, only to be given a short and asked tot duel to see if i knew how to fight. Overal it feels like WOW but with a lot more soul, it would be interesting to see another world where LOTRO came out first and became the next big thing.

    PS there is a second dwarf race added where you can pick male/female.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I wanted to play a warden only to find out its a class locked behind the paywall. They cost 795 funbucks and the lowest amount you can buy is 700. The next lowest is 1500. Then there is also a store link on your UI at all times.

      ACK. That’s me put off this game. Microtransactions are bad enough (or rarely even good!) but that particular approach to getting people’s money makes my skin crawl.
      Makes me both angry and sad that some people can’t see through it and it’s a viable model for running a game.

      1. Joshua says:

        Having played LOTRO off and on (probably off now) since it was released into Beta over 13 years ago, the Free to Play model was one of the more benign versions I’ve encountered. You can play the game until about level 30ish or so before any of the burdens start getting onerous, and earn some points to remove them through normal game-play. In the above example, even though the smallest denomination that he could buy was 700 points, it would not be hard at all for Chris to gain the additional 95 points through an hour or so of routine gameplay he was already doing.

        If you look at Free to Play models as something that allows one to play for free but encourages the individual to pay money at some point, the game is fairly generous. Two of the burdens that a player would typically experience first would be limited bag space and a gold cap of only 5 gold, and both of those are among the restrictions that are permanently removed for a character once the player spends any money at all, as spending even just a few bucks qualifies the player as a Premium account, which also adds another character slot which allows the opportunity to gain additional LOTRO Points.

        Warden is one of the two prestige classes offered by the first expansion The Mines of Moria, and isn’t necessary for the experience. For the record, I think it’s a really fun class to play, but it’s not for everyone.

        1. Chris says:

          Fair enough, but its just my starting experience (like 2 hours). So if my first 10 minutes is me finding out i cant play the class that looked interesting, and then finding out i cant just put down like 5 bucks to solve it because of the stupid funbucks conversion system, its not really a happy first meeting, so to speak. It wouldnt have been a problem at all if i wanted to play any other class. Its just an unfortunate start. I hope it gets better once i get into the swing of things.

          1. Joshua says:

            Makes sense. There’s plenty to like and dislike in the game, but sometimes first impressions are unfortunate like that with bad combinations of factors.

        2. Hector says:

          While I understand that you are trying to defend the game, and it may be a good game, this is also a complete non-sequitur as an argent goes.

          People aren’t objecting to paying money for the thing; they’re objecting to an exploitative financial model that forces people to buy more fake money than they need to buy the thing they want. In fact, the company is very obviously forcing people to pony up twice as much as they are really charging for the item while trying to conceal that fact. This is not just an idle theory; this is a very morally questionable practice, and at the very least it’s, dishonest, insulting and manipulative.

          Let’s say that you like hamburgers, so you go to the “Ultimate Gourmet Boürger House”. You know these burgers are good and are willing to pay for one. However, when you get nthere, you discover that first you have to buy BurgerBucks in lots of 20 dollars each, and *somehow* the price of a meal is always *just* slightly more than you can buy. Woudl you just blindly buy itno this, or would you realize that this is a terrible deal that designed to rip you off?

          1. Joshua says:

            There is that point, and it may be true overall in how you’re not allowed to buy points in tiny increments. There is definitely an incentive to encourage excess points so people will be incentivized to pay for stuff down the road.
            However, while that may be a general goal overall to encourage leftover points (because leftover points encourage further playing time), there is no deliberate point setting to be just beyond a threshold as your last example is shown. The extra class slot is one of many things you might want to spend points on, and there are plenty of things you can buy for under that minimum amount of points, including permanent upgrades.

            To use your burger house analogy, this would be more like offering gift cards in specific increments of $5, with no refunds allowed. So, sure you buy fries for $1.37, a shake for $4.22, or even a Triple Burger Deluxe for $6, but the minimum card purchase is $5 even and there are no refunds. Maybe a slightly greedy practice, but not as shady as your example.

            1. Joshua says:

              Ironically enough, I would think that the pricing for the Warden class is skeevy because it’s way too high at 795. The Warden and Rune-Keeper classes come free with the Mines of Moria expansion, which I think typically sells for 1,500-2,000 LOTRO Points, sometimes much less depending upon a sale, so 795 is too high in comparison. This is an expansion that is almost required to advance in the game past level 50, and certainly one you wouldn’t want to miss on your first play-through.

              1. Nimrandir says:

                I’d have to agree on the price for the class being steep. I got it for less during a sale event, and I was able to cover the cost with points earned in-game.

                I have yet to get far enough into the game to consider the expansions. I lose myself wandering around too often.

            2. Nimrandir says:

              I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to minimize the number of people who have my financial information, so having a small amount of money/points in a game account (after buying a card in meatspace) is typical for me.

              Funnily enough, I bought another LotRO character slot over the weekend. Since I launch the game through Steam, the system defaulted to that as my payment method. As a result, I now have an extra dollar or so in my Steam wallet to go with the thirty-four cents that have been in there since the Obama administration.

        3. BlueHorus says:

          Ah. It makes a BIG difference that you can earn your LOTROBucks in-game. The classic ‘you don’t HAVE to pay anything’ defense.

          What then matters is whether the free stuff is itself fun, and how long it takes to earn enough to unlock other content…
          …which (from what I’ve heard about LOTRO) the balance is pretty good.

          That pricing model still irks me, though.

          1. Nimrandir says:

            I don’t like it either, but it actually bothers me less than the ‘9.99’ principle of real-life purchases. Maybe that’s only a thing here in the U.S.?

            1. BlueHorus says:

              Oh, no, I think pricing things at [insert currency here].99 is common all over the world. Certainly in every country I’ve been to.
              Irritating for sure, though not quite the same as only accepting an instore currency, that can only be bought in blocks, that don’t match up with the price of the products…

              Amusingly, in some countries – where the currency is weak in comarison to others – some coins are more expensive than the value they depict. (Example: last time I looked, it costs the Japanese government more than 1yen to make a 1yen coin. But – of course – everything’s sold for 399yen, or 4999yen, etc, so 1yen coins have to be made…)

              But a FAR worse real life-habit is one I’ve seen in North America (rare, thankfully), where a product’s listed price doesn’t include tax – so you try to buy it, and realise it’s actually more than advertised. That trick can piss right off.

              1. Chad Miller says:

                But a FAR worse real life-habit is one I’ve seen in North America (rare, thankfully), where a product’s listed price doesn’t include tax – so you try to buy it, and realise it’s actually more than advertised.

                Unless I’m misunderstanding you, this is near-ubiquitous in the USA. On the Internet it’s largely because of our federated government; the taxes can depend on your state and even city, so rather than try to calculate that stuff on the webpage/store they wait until you’re confirming your billing information at checkout instead.

                This is actually one thing I miss about the time I lived in WA state; there’s no sales tax on groceries, so I actually could go to the supermarket and buy a week’s worth of food without any added tax.

            2. tmtvl says:

              The EU is planning to take pieces of 1 and 2 Eurocent out of circulation. But this is threading dangerously close to politics, so I won’t give my opinion on it.

          2. Joshua says:

            If you’re only looking for the important permanent upgrades (sufficient storage space, extra character slots, removal of gold cap, and most importantly, new quest packs and expansions), it’s possible to avoid paying money and still have characters that are otherwise comparable to a subscriber, especially since some of these purchases unlock additional opportunities to obtain more points, such as more characters and region unlocks (quests/expansions). There are probably plenty of people who pay little to nothing to play the game as an extended demo. At some point, though, if you do have a reasonable income you’ll ask yourself “Is it worth spending effort to gain 10 LP when that’s roughly equivalent to $.10 USD?”

            You can actually pay for a subscription, even if it’s just a single month, and permanently unlock many things for any characters created at the time in addition to getting free points. Otherwise, most of the things that will bug you from being free to play (lack of swift travel horses, no trait set bonuses, no crafting guild memberships, limited questing regions), don’t start becoming an issue until at least level 30 or so, and even then, the points that you will have acquired by that point should be sufficient to purchase another new region or two, allowing you to obtain more points.

            As far as being fun, you obtain LP from completing Deeds. Some of these you should do naturally in the course of regular playing of the game, like “Complete X Quests in Bree-Land, or “Find the five Elf-Ruins in Ered Luin”, and some of them are kill X many creatures of this type. The latter type of Slayer Deed has been in the game since the beginning, but is probably the one that would be considered tedious grinding, although it gives you bonuses other than LP.

            1. Thomas says:

              I like MMOs that remove most of the free-to-play crud if you do subscribe, even for a short time. I was happy playing The Old Republic as a free-to-play MMO until I decided I was invested in the game, and then I subscribed for a month and played the rest.

              The important thing for me is that it doesn’t feel like the game is still nickel and diming me if I did pay. Lots of mobile games are more like money-pits. You can pay for a temporary boost in convenience, but soon they’ll be back to nagging you for money. That’s not worth it.

        4. DDO is pretty much the same way–you can play 100% for free, especially with all the free content they just gave away. The prices on a few things are a bit on the high side, but they have several sales during the year where you can generally pick up most of them super-cheap, and you earn game currency just by playing the game if that’s how you like to roll.

    2. Daimbert says:

      I played LOTRO briefly not too long after it first came out, but it never really grabbed me. At least in part, I think, because I wasn’t a big fan of LOTR and the lore and setting generally is what interests me in MMOs and not the mechanics, but the mechanics weren’t that thrilling either. About the only MMO that I tried that I couldn’t get into at all was WoW. I tried an Undead Warlock for a bit, didn’t mind it, and then switched to a Dwarf Paladin and … felt that the game and gameplay was pretty much the same despite them being radically different classes. I had been spoiled with Dark Age of Camelot and City of Heroes where changing realms and classes and the like did lead to interestingly different gameplay, and WoW didn’t have that for me. And since I didn’t care at all about the lore, there was nothing there for me.

      The Old Republic is surprisingly better at this, as the various classes play differently and the different realms have radically different stories for the most part. And I care more about the lore and really like the class and planetary stories, which explains why despite many thinking of it as a WoW ripoff, I’ve been able to play it off and on for years and have never gone back to WoW.

      1. Chris says:

        While im not super deep into LOTR lore from what i gathered the game is fairly faithful at recreating middle earth. So I can imagine that for a LOTR fan its a dream come true. Normal single player games cannot afford to make a huge open world, because its a 1 time 60 dollar sell, rather than a continuous moneymaker that works better if its big. So the MMO framework is probably the only way for devs to be able to convince suits to give them the money and time they need to make a huge game. So i guess if neither combat nor LOTR is your thing it doesnt have anything going for it.

        The problem with personalized content is that only a fraction of the players (1/(number of classes)) actually play that content. So you need to make far more to get the same amount of content as a game that makes everything for everyone. And content creation is already a huge issue in themepark MMOs. Each minute of handcrafted gameplay needs many times the minutes in developing it. And when MMOs have players that spend 8 hours per day, every day, on playing it, you need a lot of content to keep them happy.

        1. Joshua says:

          The developers have certainly mined just about every scrap out of the books they can, while treading the line on alluding to things in the books they didn’t have the rights to, such as in a flashback calling Sauron the Gift-Maker instead of Giver of Gifts or whatever. But if there’s any kind of descriptive text in the Lord of the Rings books about an area, it’s likely been recreated in game.

          1. Lino says:

            What do they do for content now? Do they just make new stuff up (like the lands to where the Blue Wizards went)?

            1. Joshua says:

              They seem to be having fun making up their own content on the What If basis combined with Tolkein’s themes. The last two expansions revolved around Mordor post destruction of Sauron, and deal with the existence of several of his dangerous minions suddenly finding themselves in the power vacuum created by his death, along with the army of the Free People’s (mostly Gondorian) exploring Mordor and dealing with pockets of enemies and exploring the still dangerous terrain.

              They actually insinuate that the two Blue Wizards visited the Easterlings.

              1. Lino says:

                That sounds like a good direction to go in. If I were more into Tolkien and/or MMOs, I’d check it out. Still, might look up some LP on YouTube.

                1. Nimrandir says:

                  This stuff sounds really cool. I need to stick with a character and follow the plot for once.

        2. Nimrandir says:

          As a ludicrous Tolkien buff, the chance to wander around Middle-earth is the main draw for me.

  3. Joe says:

    Tolkien never actually clarified the beard situation for dwarf women. I imagine them without. But it’s not my call. I hope the show goes beardless, but if they’re trying to match continuity with the movies, then there might be beards. Sophia Nomvete and Megan Richards have big enough frames that, hey, maybe.

    As for putting computers through hell, Quake 2 with a crazy weapons mod, pre 3d card. Every time I let off a BFG grenade, the screen would become a slideshow for a few seconds. Looked really cool. The one downside of the 3d card was the explosion becoming a regular quick flash.

    Also, Torchlight 1. My computer was too crap to run it at the time. My dad’s could, but only for about an hour at a time. It’s torture when you have a fun new skinner box. An hour at a time.

    1. John says:

      From my aged, decaying paperback copy of Return of the King:

      It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people. They seldom walk abroad except at great need. They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart. This has given rise to the foolish opinion among Men that there are no dwarf-women, and the the Dwarves “grow out of stone”.

      It’s not definitive proof that female dwarves have beards, but it certainly suggests that they might. Tolkien tended to change his mind a lot on stuff like this, however. Even the Silmarillion shouldn’t necessarily be regarded as Tolkien’s final word, as it was cobbled together posthumously from various drafts by Tolkien’s son.

      1. Decius says:

        It’s also plausible that Gimli was lying, mistaken, or didn’t have experience with every dwarf culture.

        1. John says:

          Possible, maybe, but I don’t think I’d go as far as plausible. Given the context of the quote, which is from the historical appendices at the end of the book, I’m pretty sure that the reader is supposed to take it at face value.

      2. butsuri says:

        Interestingly enough, an earlier draft of that passage did explicitly state that dwarf-women have beards. Tolkien took it out of the final version. I’m not sure how that should affect one’s degree of certainty on the question, but at least one cannot deny that Tolkien ever had such an idea.

        It’s also mentioned in a 1951 revision of the Silmarillion (which did not make it into the published version, and was later published in The History of Middle-earth volume XI: The War of the Jewels):

        For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male and female alike; nor indeed can their womenkind be discerned by those of other race, be it in feature or in gait or in voice, nor in any wise save this: that they go not to war, and seldom save at direst need issue from their deep bowers and halls.

        1. Hector says:

          Of course, Tolkein didn’t say where they had beards.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Could that mean there are places that dwarven men don’t grow hair, to balance out their prodigious beards?

  4. Mephane says:

    Short version: This new place has improved my life in many unexpected ways.

    Long version: Listen to the show.

    Alright then, keep your secrets. :)

  5. Geebs says:

    Somehow, I’m really not feeling it for Cyberpunk. I’m a huge fan of The Witcher, Deus Ex, Prey (the Arkane one), and all of that stuff, but the trailers are leaving me cold for this one. I like the “90’s Special Reserve catalogue” vibe but I don’t really feel anything special from the FPS and “detective mode” footage.

    Really looking forward to seeing what people say on release but I’m not sure this is a day 1 thing for me right now.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      For the record I tend to avoid trailers and I haven’t seen any of the longer Cyberpunk videos but I think the game will be largely carried by whether the NPCs and the world are engaging*, which is difficult to judge unless you actually play the game for a few hours.

      *Controversial opinion: I don’t think Witcher 3 combat was that amazing.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        Controversial opinion: I don’t think Witcher 3 combat was that amazing.

        Is that controversial? It seems like barely anyone talks about the combat, and I don’t remember anyone having good things to say about it.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      The game looks like it’ll be pretty cool, shooting dudes and upgrading augs, but I don’t have a system that would be able to play it. It’s a new system-on-chip[1] desktop, that was made to be small, quiet-ish, and powerful “enough”. It’s slightly more powerful than my 6-year-old laptop is, but not by more than like, 10%. I’ve had so many years[2] of games that look pretty, but have shallow gameplay, stories, or characters, that I just gave up and started playing indie games. :)

      [1] Or whatever the other, related acronym is. I think it had an A in it.
      [2] More than a decade? From the beginnings of the cover-shooter, around the time of Mass Effect 1 in 2007.

  6. Thomas says:

    The latest trailers have raised my interest in Cyberpunk, but made me also desperately wish it wasn’t first person. There have so many great details on choosing your characters appearance, and it looks like you’ll barely get to see it.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      That’s what mirrors are for! :P

  7. Lino says:

    Yay! Two questions answered in one show! Thank you for the thorough answers!

    With regards to low spec gaming, the lowest I’ve gone was for Assassin’s Creed 2. I played it on an old laptop, and I rarely got above, like 10 or 15 FPS. I played almost the entire game like that, until my hard drive was fried (I don’t remember why), and I lost all of my progress. I remember really liking the game, but after that – even though I bought a new and much more powerful laptop – I just didn’t want to play it anymore.

    Partially because I felt like I had just fallen off of Mount Everest – I had tried to go for a 100% run, and was pretty close to getting it before it all went to hell. But the other reason was because now that I had a computer that could run it properly, the entire experience felt so shallow to me. I was a huge fan of the original – I followed every single preview I could find, and was initially very excited that the game wouldn’t have a GPS map, so that you could be completely immersed in the world (an idea they had obviously abandoned very early on).

    But now the game just felt like a collect-a-thon. It completely doused my interest in the franchise. A couple of years later, I played Assassin’s Creed 3, and that completely killed any interest I had left in those games.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Extrinsic reward systems only last a short while – that’s why I go for games where the mechanics themselves are enjoyable. Collect-a-thons, “achievements”[1], loot boxes – all things that treat you like a crow looking for shiny trinkets! :)

      [1] In Steam, Xbox, or otherwise.

      1. Lino says:

        Yeah, it’s why I tend to shy away from games that rely too heavily on them. These days, I almost never try to 100% a game.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Funny because my low-spec gaming story that I particularly remember is also AC2, it’s why I didn’t go completionist on the game the first time I’ve played it. In all honesty I’d describe my experience as “barely playable if you were very patient”, not sure what the framerate numbers were but it moved like everybody was underwater and I think I’ve only persisted because I was very into the series after the first game.

      The next time I tried something like this was with Ashes of Singularity which I got from Humble Monthly I think, I could do the small tutorial missions but as the maps got larger and as the core mechanics of having big swarms of drones kicked in the game struggled to unplayability.

      There was also one spacey JRPG that was generally playable but kept overheating my graphics card at the time which caused crashes on a regular basis, I don’t remember either the title of the game or the name of the card at this point.

      1. Lino says:

        I also had overheating problems on one the PC we had when I was a kid. It happened during summers, and the remedy was to open the side panel, and keep a box of ice next to it :D

  8. Dreadjaws says:

    The YouTube link is missing, guys. I see the video on Paul’s YouTube channel, but I don’t see a link to it here.

    1. Shamus says:

      Huh. I KNOW I put it in the post at some point. I must have accidentally deleted it during editing. Anyway, fixed now.

  9. Dreadjaws says:

    Oh, man. Being a low spec gamer is technically what I’ve done for the majority of my life. Every upgrade I’ve made has never been to “the latest”, but just above average to current games. Yes, I get to play older games in ultra settings, but the new ones are always usually at mid settings in order to avoid impossibly low framerates.

    That being said, it used to be worse. My first real upgrade was when I noticed just how terribly low my specs had been up ’til then. When I reinstalled some old games they were just so fast that I had trouble adapting. Imagine my surprise at realizing that was supposed to be normal.

    This is why I instantly suspect the comments of people who say low framerate makes people feel sick. I mean, I get motion sickness from certain FPSs, but I’ve played at low framerate for years and things were never worse for me back then. Like, git gud, people, amirite?

    1. John, says:

      There’s all kinds of people. I can believe that really choppy and especially inconsistent frame rates might well make some people sick. I doubt that the real frame-rate obsessive types all suffer from that condition though.

    2. Decius says:

      My experience with Hardspace: Shipbreaker has caused me to believe that I lack the thing that makes some other people motion sick.

      I can handle the six-axis movement just fine, although I get disoriented rather more easily than I do on four-and-a-half axis (Pitch, yaw, forward/back, left/right, jump) control schemes; that might just be an aspect of the dynamic nature of the landmarks, though. Streamers and youtubers of the game seem to have a strong tendency to orient their feet in the direction that they start oriented in.

      Maybe my experience with playing Descent and reading Ender’s Game repeatedly during adolescence rewired my brain in a useful manner?

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Playing Sublevel Zero definitely gave me practice moving in full 3D. I started out getting queasy playing that game, but a couple weekends ago I booted it up after a year hiatus, and noticed I was handling it just fine! :)

    3. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Kinda with you in there, I actually tend to get PCs somewhere near the curve but I then run them ragged for the next six years or so until they are waaaay behind, though it did help that I still tend to buy AAA games 2-3 years after release, once some kind of complete edtion comes out. Currently on a 2nd year of my machine and it’s holding up but I suspect the time to start dropping into low details might come soonish after this next console generation gets on solid legs.

    4. Kathryn says:

      Skyrim did make me sick to my stomach, especially when my husband was playing it on the big TV. I couldn’t even be in the same room.

      Granted, I was pregnant at the time. But still.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        To be clear, was it a visual effect in Skyrim which made you sick, or was it the writing?

        1. tmtvl says:

          Or the gameplay?

        2. Kathryn says:

          Hahaha. It was the first time I’d ever played a game with mouselook or a game with a first person perspective (unless you count Wolfenstein 3D). The rapid swinging around of the screen was just too much for me, especially when my husband was playing, because he was constantly spinning around and changing directions, etc. I also got queasy at work watching our mechanical engineer swooping through the vehicle model showing off his cable routing, and I wasn’t pregnant then. Lesson learned, mouselook and first person are not for me! (Although The Return of the Obra Dinn did not make me sick – but I was moving very slowly and deliberately in that game.)

          (Interestingly, I almost never get motion sickness from actual motion, like cars etc. It’s happened a few times, but it’s really unusual.)

          1. Joshua says:

            I tend to have that reaction from some FPS games. Half-Life and its sequels didn’t cause me too many problems, but I gave up on F.E.A.R. after a few levels and barely got anywhere in SOMA just because I would get dizzy and queasy. Meanwhile, my wife is really big into Survival games like Don’t Starve, Minecraft, The Long Dark, and Rising World (this latter one we’re playing together), and the first-person perspective ones never give me any issues.

          2. Chad Miller says:

            I have a similar reaction to first-person motion, but only if I’m not the one controlling it. It actually made Kingdom Come: Deliverance completely unplayable for me; there are things like door-opening animations where the character’s head whips around and makes me nauseous. The parts I’m controlling are fine but when the camera does its own thing it just ruins me.

  10. Hal says:

    I was someone who never thought I’d be playing my D&D online. I’d played with a few digital tabletops and found them obtuse and clunky; I just couldn’t see making that a long term solution.

    But my gaming dried up, and my friends were all scattered around the country, so I finally said, “Okay. Let’s try this.” And it’s worked out so well (so far.)

    It’s definitely not the same as being present at the table together. You get used to the new dynamics eventually, though there’s a learning curve as you’re having to adjust to those dynamics. You’d be surprised how much of DMing is about social dynamics rather than creativity or game mechanics. At the same time, there’s a lot that the medium allows that wouldn’t be possible at a normal table.

    My game has been going strong for over a year now, and it’s been a blast. Attendance has been amazing since March. (Imagine that. ) I’m running a hexcrawl adventure still loosely set in the world of Mar Tesaro, on an island of my own invention called Mar Kurimus. It’s very loosely based on the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure. Mar Kurimus is an island which had previously been shrouded by a magical storm for 1000 years; the storm has weakened enough that ships can pass through. The players are part of an expedition sent by a dwarven nation to the far north to see what has happened on the island and determine whether its emergence represents a threat.

    I’ve really enjoyed running it. Though at this point it’s my most ambitious game ever. My campaign notes are now ~50 pages in a Google doc. We’ve had 22 sessions every other week, and the players aren’t even a quarter of the way through the story.

  11. 0451fan0451 says:

    Kaden here. I was very excited to hear my name in a video game since that never happens, but then was disappointed when I saw it was spell “Kaidan.” Oh well. I ended up chooses Ashley to live anyways.

    1. Geebs says:

      Fun fact: the character is actually called “Dan”. Over time, the crew of the Normandy got tired of Dan‘s habit of cornering anybody who was unlucky enough to fall into his orbit, and telling them at great length about how much he hated his biotic implants and wanted to get revenge on his old CO. Over time, everybody got into the habit of blowing him off before he could get started with a quick “OK, Dan”. Eventually that got shortened to “‘Kay, Dan”, and the rest, as they say, is history.

  12. John, says:

    Okay, having played even more Egypt: Old Kingdom, I must now make some corrections and retractions. For context, Old Kingdom is basically a worker-placement game, like one of those European style board games which I will never, ever play. You have a certain number of workers and you place them into slots on the map in order to generate resources such as grain, which lets you acquire more workers, “hammers”, which let you build stuff, and luxuries, which are used for diplomacy and monumental construction projects. The goal of the game, in its essence, is to stockpile resources so that when the game confronts you with a random or scripted event you can spend resources in order to avoid the negative consequences of that event. If that sounds reductive, it’s because I’ve determined that I don’t actually like Old Kingdom very much.

    The Sea People, as it turns out, aren’t present in all of the game’s various modes. The default game mode, which I have since beaten, ends before the Bronze Age Collapse. The default mode is super-historical. You will be confronted with scripted events regarding various historical phenomena on schedule and exactly when they happened in real history whether you’re ready or not and possibly whether or not it actually makes sense. You can achieve certain counter-historical outcomes–I was able to prevent the historical conquest of Lower Egypt by Upper Egypt, for example–but it doesn’t seem to make a real difference in the experience of play. There are text pop-ups describing the actual history and how whatever you did compares, but in the end it all boils down to bonuses or maluses to production.

    I encountered the Sea People in the game’s free-form endless mode, which otherwise leaves out most history-related scripted events. From what I’ve read online, it’s possible to endure the Sea People, even though it’s literally impossible to beat them. The Sea People kill workers and steal resources but if you have a sufficiently productive economic machine you can, in theory, spend stockpiled grain to acquire new workers, replacing all the slain, and keep on going as if nothing had happened. If you can replace of all of your grain stockpiles between attacks, you can go on forever. I didn’t manage that–I couldn’t grow food fast enough and my stockpiles eventually ran out–but even I lasted a fairly long time. I’ve seen it suggested that it’s possible to fight the Sea People off indefinitely but I have doubts about that. In practical terms, soldiers are just another resource like grain or luxuries, but in my experience they’re the hardest to replace.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      I’ve played through Egypt: Old Kingdom (and it’s precursor Predynastic Egypt) several times and quite like them overall. I’ve only played in the historical mode, but I find its system of having a scripted historical “crisis” every so many turns to be rather interesting, as the game is happy to let you fail them and still continue playing (well, I think there’s one existential crisis at the end where if you fail it ends your game immediately and if you win you get to continue for another X turns to maximize your score). Whether you can beat a crisis (and how well you do so) depends on the resources you have stockpiled at the time, and that’ll change at different points in the game on different playthroughs so (while it’s entirely possible I’m simply not that good at the game) each playthrough I tend to pass some crises with flying colors, squeak through others, and fail others, but which are which is different every time, which makes it interesting.

      Also, it’s not trying to be Civilization, and doesn’t really allow you to snowball, which I think makes it more interesting; you’re never in a position where you have “won the game”, and always have to keep on top of what’s happening to be ready to react to changing circumstances. You have various “administrative costs”, essentially, which tick up over time so that while you will definitely be producing a lot more of everything at the end of the game than at the beginning you never go into an exponential growth mode where you can run roughshod over the competition (in this game, various other tribes/petty kingdoms).

      1. John says:

        I think the thing about Old Kingdom that eventually left me cold is that it isn’t a simulation of the things it’s describing. History isn’t present in the game’s systems. It only exists in the flavor text for challenges which, for all the Egyptologists Clarus claims to have consulted, seem essentially arbitrary. It’s hard for me to get invested in a “you must spend resources to enact political reforms or else get hit with population loss and production maluses” challenge when the game doesn’t have any political systems and there’s been no reference of any kind to politics prior to the challenge. Worse, the challenges I face don’t seem to have any relation to things I’ve been doing. Everything happens according to the script. Am I doing well? Poorly? Have I expanded along the Nile or into the desert? It doesn’t matter. I’ll face the same challenges at the same times every time I play no matter what I do or what I’ve done.

        Incidentally, the secret to passing all the trials, at least as far as I can tell, is to be a real cheapskate with the pharaoh’s tombs. Crummy brick step pyramids. Sparsely furnished, tiny little underground chambers. Why spend a lot of resources that you’ll need for trials on some pharoah who doesn’t exist except as a name on a tomb? Admittedly, even that wasn’t enough to get me through all the trials. I still failed the political reform trial that I mentioned above. (I think I had enough resources but for some reason the game didn’t want to let me spend them at certain points.) But once I started skimping on tombs I started doing a lot better, score-wise.

  13. Joshua says:

    Ironically enough, just started my first virtual game on Roll20 a couple of weeks ago as a DM. It will be our third session tomorrow. Overall, I’m pretty happy with it, but there is a bit of a learning curve.

    It has some disadvantages to playing around an actual table (the whole social aspect, and maybe missing the literal rolling of dice if you don’t use the virtual rolling), but there are some advantages too:

    1. Getting to play with people who are remote. I’m in Texas, and a couple of my players are old friends/roommates in Ohio.
    2. It’s easier to get a good battle map together instead of cobbling together dungeon tiles, having to draw on a battle map, or use some kind of overhead projector.
    3. All of the math is handled for you. If you’ve ever had players who typically take 30 seconds to add together all of their dice and/or modifiers because math isn’t their strong suit, this is a plus.
    4. You can actually use visual limitations of lighting easier now, since everyone has a different screen. The Elf with 60′ of Darkvision is going to be seeing different things on their computer screen than the person who’s playing a human with a small torch.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      Our local Pathfinder group has been doing games over Roll20 and Discord. I enjoy playing when I can (last time, my Internet crapped out right as we were starting), but I can’t say in good conscience that it’s the same experience.

      Maybe that’s the extrovert in me.

      1. Joshua says:

        I’m not an extrovert, but I’ll agree it doesn’t have the same group dynamic. If nothing else, only seeing their faces eliminates some of the body language that’s helpful as a social game. However, we’re not playing Roll20 as the preferred choice, as I imagine most people are in the same boat. One of our players had previously tried the whole playing with a webcam and cell phone experience (think Full Frontal Nerdity), and THAT was very short-lived because it was so awful. This is a much more workable solution.

  14. Steve C says:

    Rimworld is an example of a game with no win condition. You will be attacked by increasing larger raids until 1)you lose, 2)you get bored or 3)your computer chokes and crashes. (If you choose to escape via ship it’s not really over as you can advance time and someone will eventually move in.)

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Hah! I never actually tried letting a new person move in after that. I think I only escaped like, once, and all my other games were slow and grindy[1] after that, so I never got a chance. I might have to cheat my way to victory… :)

      [1] At least some of this, was with patches that invalidated a lot of the strategies that let you easily deal with pirates.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      Technically there’s no lose condition either, if all your dudes die you can just put it on fast forward until you hit the same “wanderer joins” event that gets you back to playing after escaping via ship.

      1. Steve C says:

        Na, there’s still a lose condition. The same three end points continue to apply. IE A wander joins, 1)you lose, 2)you get bored, or 3)your computer chokes and crashes. And because raids continue at larger and larger sizes, #1 or #3 is going to happen much sooner than with a new game.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          If getting on the ship doesn’t count as a winning end point because wanderers can still join and restart the colony, why does “everyone dies” count as a losing end point when wanderers can still join and restart the colony?

  15. Joshua says:

    If the wiring is already there, it’s a simple matter to change out the outlets, just a little time-consuming and annoying since there are so many to do. You just need a flat screwdriver and a set of needle-nose pliers. However, assuming that you are still renting, it should be the landlord’s responsibility to do this. Still, I’d make it a priority to discuss this with them for any outlets used by expensive equipment. Simply tell them that you’d be happy to do it yourself it they absolve you of any liability for Bad Things that might happen electrically should persuade them to get it done professionally.

    1. Decius says:

      If the wiring was already there, the outlets would already be correct.

      1. Joshua says:

        But that’s not what he claimed in the podcast? He said the electrician verified there was a groundwire present, but they used a two-prong outlet anyway.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Correct. :)

      2. Shamus says:

        You’d think so, but somehow we ended up with old outlets in front of new wiring. Wires are properly grounded, the service panel is new, but the outlets were ancient 2-prong things leftover from the 70s.

        I have no idea how things wound up this way, but I’m grateful. There were a lot of easy-to-fix things like this that made the house appear a lot worse than it is, which probably depressed the price down into our range.

        1. Joshua says:

          I guess it’s better than when there’s no groundwire present, but people install 3-prong outlets anyway. Nothing like false security.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            I’ve seen houses like that. I don’t think they’d pass inspection nowadays. ^^;

  16. MerryWeathers says:

    Im going into Cyberpunk 2077 as if it were GTA V with the level of detail of Witcher 3 and not RPGs like New Vegas. It seems more like an action adventure game with multiple paths/choices than an actual role-playing game.
    V is obviously their own preset character with some variations from their life paths, kind of like a more customizable Geralt.

    As someone whose played the original Cyberpunk 2013, 2020, and eventeven accursed V3 games, I’m really interested in how this game ties into the story of those games since I loved the former two. I must be the only one who fanboy’d before the Keanu Reeves reveal because I immediately recognized Johnny Silverhand when the metal arm popped into frame.

    Apparently the gunplay feels really nice which is ironic coming from a developer that’s only made janky sword combat up to this point. I know what my build is focusing on.
    Braindance is interesting but I feel it would bore the fuck out of me if was really as linear as the trailer made it out to be (though I’m sure that was just the tutorial) and didn’t let me investigate on my own like Obra Dinn.

  17. Lino says:

    14:23 – I get why guys with smaller penises like to overcompensate with cars and bikes, but trucks? Seriously? Aren’t trucks made for doing… you know… work? Not to kink shame anyone, but does anybody get impressed when they see a big truck?

    1. Joshua says:

      Apparently, the same people who buy these trucks? My wife has a pickup truck, but apart from having a full-length bed it’s pretty standard size. But you see all kinds of people out here (predominantly men) who like to drive trucks with jacked-up suspensions and extra-sized everything.

    2. Hector says:

      Some people really like larger, powerful machines. Film at 11!

      In all seriousness, it’s the same urge that causes people to get Mustangs, or Corvettes, and or even in a different fashion Tesla’s: The thrill of something that appeals to them *viscerally*. It might be raw horsepower, or the roar of an engine, or fats acceleration, or the rush of high-tech, or whatever.

    3. Shamus says:

      Yes, I find it strange how trucks have morphed into redneck sports cars. You’ll see guys driving around in these cherry-red monsters up on a lift kit and extra-screamy exhaust, and the bed of the truck is completely spotless and has clearly never held any cargo in its life.

      Just thinking about the fuels costs makes me panic, never mind the car payments.

      1. Hector says:

        Oh come now, who doesn’t have a $75,000 car loan these days? What are you doing with your life if not going hip-deep in debt for ludicrously expensive things you can’t possibly use?!

        [Yes, I’m just joking. The cost for one of those is absurd. I’ve know of people who spend more on their vehicle than on their home.]

        1. Joshua says:

          They are a big thing here in Texas, where I live. In the Oil & Gas industry where I work, an industry with a lot of Boom & Bust cycles, there have been problems with younger operators suddenly making big bucks (being in your mid-20s suddenly bringing home $20-50/hour) who take out huge loans for these trucks against the advice of older veterans, and then suddenly the Repo business comes into play during one of the Bust cycles.

          1. Thomas says:

            Footballers (soccer) get caught out in a similar way with car payment deals. They wind up at a big club with a nice paycheck, sign a ridiculous car rental contract to try and keep face with the club veterans on even bigger paychecks and then they quickly get shuffled to some lower division side at a tenth of the wage and find themself up to their neck in debt.

      2. Erik says:

        That one has always lost me. I admit, I’m a sports car guy. I love the acceleration, but even more I love corners, and the feel of the balance of the machine as you use the gas pedal to make subtle adjustments to the car’s line as you try to hit the apex for perfect exit. But all that power and you’ve actually moved the center of gravity so far up you’ll flip if you turn or brake too hard? That’s just foolish.

        Max torque and ground clearance is a different game, and offroading is a lot of fun too. My other car is a micro-4×4 with great clearance. But the “redneck sports cars” (love that, will steal) have just as obviously never been out bouldering and getting lashed by branches either – they’re pure show cars, the automotive equivalent of an overclipped poodle.

    4. tmtvl says:

      Clearly you aren’t familiar with dekotora.

      1. Lino says:

        Wow, very interesting! They remind me of Filipino jeepneys. Except much fancier.

    5. Lino says:

      Thank you all for the answers. I guess insecure people around the world have different ways of showing off. It’s probably also a cultural thing – once I came across a bit of trivia that Chevrolet was the car brand mentioned in the largest number of songs. As far as I know, trucks are one of their strongest product lines.

      That cultural prevalence has probably turned them into a status symbol for some people…

  18. Geoff says:

    Diecast members, what’s the lowest you’ve sank to play something you otherwise probably shouldn’t have?

    Oh man. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six. The original. In 1998. This was at the beginning of graphics card revolution that would overtake PC gaming. IIRC, the major graphics card at the time was the Voodoo. It was the first game that I ever played that required a graphics card. Problem was, we didn’t have a graphics card in our low-end home computer.

    Somehow, we ended up with this game anyway (probably because, as this was our first, we didn’t know any better). The game still technically ran on CPU rendering, but the actual in-game portion was running at 1-2 FPS tops. The rest of the game / UI, however, worked fine because it was entirely 2D. The game had an extensive mission planning phase where you could split your AI teammates into groups (4 total, I think) and plan routes, including scripting routes, stopping at “go” points, tossing frag / flashbang grenades, door breaching, etc.

    I played and beat the entire game as a tactical planning simulator. I would split all of the AI into separate squads, arm and gear them up, then plan out elaborate routes to clear out the complex we were assaulting, including sync points where all of the groups would reach a specific place and then wait for a go order to breach. In game, I would tilt my camera into the nearest wall / corner away from the map to maximize what limited framerate I got, then wait for audio queues from the squads to let me know where they were on the map and issue the go-codes. If I had deaths or failed the mission, I would restart and make adjustments to my plan until it worked to my liking.

    It was a painstakingly arduous and time consume way to play that game… but as a teen I guess time is a thing you have a lot of!

  19. If you do come to visit in DDO, I run a guild on the Thelanis server that you’re welcome to join to slurp up some buffs etc. If Shamus doesn’t want to hunt up my email, there’s a link to my Twitch channel so you can throw me a note that way.

    DDO has a sharp difficulty/complexity spike when you get out of the starting area and having a guild that can throw you stuff helps get over the hump.

    Be prepared for it to take 2 or more hours for the game to download and install updates when you first fire it up. I love the game, but realistically it has some janky old annoyances that can be really unpleasant for someone just starting.

  20. Duoae says:

    I wouldn’t say I’ve been a low spec gamer, i think I’ve always been somewhere mid-range. I often dream about the high-end equipment and, being very interested in technology, I’m always keeping abreast of the various advancements in the arena but i doubt I’ll ever have a completely high end rig. The cost of owning such a mythical beast has gone up by around 60-100% relative to what was available when i last constructed a build.

    I’ve actually been doing some research on recommended specs for playing the more demanding games on PC using some of Shamus’ scraped data as a starting point and I’ve found some interesting trends over the last 10 years. Like, for instance, there is a recurring cycle where new console hardware has been released at around the point where it reaches 150% average recommended PC CPU performance from the release of the prior hardware. (I.e. in 2020, recommended CPU average is 150% greater performance than it was when the PS4 pro released and again that was 150% in 2016 of when the PS4/XBO were released in 2013)

    I didn’t get to the GPU side of things yet but I’m not sure what to expect. RAM requirements were easy to predict ahead of time and they matched my assumptions.

    I think the times i really was playing on underpowered hardware were when i had to upgrade from a 486 (and that was the family PC, not mine) in order to play diablo and later when i had to buy a sound card in order to play quake 3 arena without hitching and framerate dips (which actually made it quite unplayable). But other than those incidences i think I’ve been quite lucky/privileged in that I’ve always been able to afford upgrades when the time was due.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      I remember trying to play Diablo on my old 486 machine. So . . . slow . . .

      When I finally upgraded, I reinstalled it, only to find it then ran so fast that I kept getting killed before I could react.

      1. Duoae says:

        Oh yeah. Totally glad it’s no longer standard to tie tick rates (or whatever they’re called) to clock speed! :D

  21. GoStu says:

    Of all the ways I’ve run D&D, I think the virtual tabletops are the worst.

    They make the easy parts of the game trivial, but rob me of agency as Dungeon Master. No custom monsters unless I’m prepared to painstakingly add them to the bestiary, no off-the-cuff HP adjustments, no fun mechanics not already in the game… nothing I can use to make the game more exciting. Hell, I can’t even rope in things from the other books I own because the purchase isn’t logged to D&DBeyond.

    {MASSIVE SARCASM} But I’m sooooo glad that it can tell me Goblins have 7 HP and 15 AC (as long as I don’t have them switch to their shortbows), and the Wizard doesn’t have to remember their save DC. {/MASSIVE SARCASM}

    1. I’ve run into this problem, too . . . every time I’ve tried to use one I’ve wound up doing programming work because they didn’t have a way to handle something absolutely trivial like the skill bonus you get from having a wizard familiar. The whole point of the system is that it’s supposed to track that stuff for you, but it’s always terrible at it!

      The only good uses I’ve seen out of virtual tabletops is that they a.) let you roll dice and b.) let you have a shared battle mat. But the stat management stuff is always fiddly and annoying and does not save you anything like as much time as it takes to learn how to use it and get it to do what you actually need it to do.

      1. GoStu says:

        I would consider using a Virtual Tabletop for 4th Edition D&D because 4E was just full of those little incidental bonuses and conditions, and tracking them could be a chore. The fourth edition of D&D was *meant* to be played with a virtual tabletop that unfortunately Wizards of the Coast was never able to deliver.

        I like the digital shared battlemap – I use a google spreadsheet. (Cell background colours to draw in terrain, cell borders for building walls, type in letters in the cell for creatures). For communication, I use Discord; for die-rolling I use a bot and employ NONE of its “helpful” automation features.

  22. Retsam says:

    Diecast members, what’s the lowest you’ve sank to play something you otherwise probably shouldn’t have?

    I remember trying to run the original Medieval Total War on my computer that really didn’t support it. The game would start, and eventually load, but the campaign map wouldn’t. I just had unit markers floating on a unvariegated sea of white. I spent hours trying to play the game anyway, split between fiddling with settings and actually just trying to work around not being able to actually see the map…

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