Diecast #310: Eastshade with SoldierHawk

By Shamus Posted Monday Jul 27, 2020

Filed under: Diecast 42 comments

It’s been about six months since the last time we had SoldierHawke on the show. So she’s back to talk about Eastshade.



Hosts: SoldierHawke, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.
Diecast310


Link (YouTube)

00:00 Intro / Video editor

For the curious, the free video editor I talked about in this segment is Davinci Resolve.

03:00 Eastshade


Link (YouTube)

24:54 Red Dead Redemption 2

Neither of us said so, but we both talk about how upsetting Grand Theft Auto V can be. I’m betting we were both talking about this bit.

30:40 Beyond Blue

I don’t know if I’d find this game fan, but it LOOKS amazing.


Link (YouTube)

36:14 Mailbag: Characters!

Dear Shamus and Soldierhawke,

The recent release of Beyond a Steel Sky – a sequel 26 years in the making – has got me wondering if either of you are partial to the adventure game. For me the best thing about the genre is the characters: over the years I’ve really treasured getting to ‘meet’ the likes of George Stobbart and Nico Collard, Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey, and of course Guybrush Threepwood and Elaine Marley. So my two part question is firstly to wonder whether you have any favourites you’d like to discuss, and more broadly, how important you think good characters are to a game and whether you think the industry is getting it right at the moment.

Yours

Asdasd

46:41 Mailbag: Black Mesa

Hi!

So I’ve finished Black Mesa earlier this year, and I’ve noticed one thing about it. It’s a great expansion on the original ideas, and in some ways switched the closer to original Unreal, instead of Half-Life. But one thing that stood up, is that almost every challenge or puzzle was repeated three times in increasing difficulty. I don’t mind usage of the rule of three, but its repeated usage started to seem very artificial. So I wonder, if any of you noticed it, and what alternatives to the rule of three you can think of?

Best regards, DeadlyDark

53:52 Mailbag: Eastshade

Dear Diecast-caster-ers,

(This is primarily for SoldierHawke, unless Shamus has played Eastshade by now.) When I played Eastshade last year, I felt like a good term to describe it would be “unevenly developed”. What one thing would you most like to have seen developed further, either in the game or in a hypothetical sequel? Or conversely, what underdeveloped thing should’ve been scrapped? This could be mechanically or story related.

As an example, on my part, I feel like the unique tea that lets you see hidden objects, but was only used in a single quest, was underused and could’ve been dropped without much loss. On the other hand, I’d love to see a game expand on the painting mechanics; for instance, historically pigments have been a HUGE consideration for painters before the appearance of cheap, reliably-consistent, light-fast synthetic pigments in the modern era. (For example, in the Renaissance, the high-quality ultramarine blue, made from ground-up lapis-lazuli, was literally worth more than its weight in gold; now we can synthesize it and it’s one of the cheaper pigments out there [though it remains just as good!].) Anway, what are your thoughts on this?

Cheers,
Daniel “Philadelphus” Berke

 


From The Archives:
 

42 thoughts on “Diecast #310: Eastshade with SoldierHawk

  1. kunedog says:

    Have to disagree about RD2 vs GTA5. I find RD2’s self righteous preachiness far more offputting than GTA5’s mostly self aware, hypocritical-criminal parody. And it’s telling that GTA5 outsold RD2 (a late 2018 release) in 2019.

    1. Redrock says:

      I’d argue that RDR2 doing slightly less well than GTA5 is mostly due to RDR2 being a western, which is inevitably a more niche genre than the modern day crime esthetic of GTA. That, and despite the original RDR being a huge hit, GTA is a much older and bigger franchise.

      As for preachiness, I honestly didn’t notice any. I mean, it deals in archetypes and themes of morality, but it does that in a manner that’s typical for the revisionist western. To me, it didn’t seem to be any more self-righteous then Unforgiven or 3:10 To Yuma or Deadwood. Then again, I adore westerns, and I can understand that someone who isn’t enamored with the genre might not be all that impressed with RDR2.

    2. Soldierhawk says:

      Well, I think moralizing is part of what makes a Western a Western, honestly–especially a modern one. You either have the old-style moralizing of the Spaghetti or John Wayne style Western, where White Hat is Good, and must Defeat the Black Hats of Evil because Good Triumphs; or you have, as RedRock says, the revisionist, more modern Western, that moralizes by examining, and ultimately tearing down the majority of, the simplistic morality of its predecessors.

      I think the thing that sets RDR2 apart from GTAV for me isn’t so much that the game is saying, SEE??? SEE HOW BAD THE BAD GUYS ARE??? which, to be fair, GTAV does as well. But RDR2 does two very important things that GTAV does not: in both games, you play bad people, who do unpleasant, even terrible, things to other people–god knows I’ve beaten the shit out of pleading debtors, in front of their families, and that wasn’t “fun.”

      But in RDR2, the game never plays that for laughs. Its not for fun, or to make a political statement. Its just an examination of the lifestyle of a bad man, who (if you choose to play him that way) might not be terribly bad at heart, but has been in the life for so long he can’t escape it. It’s a tragedy that we walk into it its final acts, like Godfather II, as opposed to the…gross meanness for the sake of meanness that a torture porn piece like, say, Hostel, has going for it. That’s what I love about it.

      The other thing RDR2 has going for it is that, while the characters are not good people, it is at least possible to have empathy for them because they act like PEOPLE, not like angry, hateful caricatures. And, perhaps most importantly, even if YOU don’t like the characters because of who and what they are, at the very barest least…they generally like, and care for, each OTHER. Dutch calls his gang a family, and everyone sees it that way. A dysfunctional family, to be sure, and one that fights and gets angry and even yells sometimes–but they also (unless you choose to have Morgan antagonize them) speak kindly to each other, risk their lives for each other, and on the balance, enjoy each others company and TRUST one another. It’s a far cry from GTAV, where even the three main characters treat each other like shit–to say nothing of the way they treat (and are treated by) the people who surround them. Even when things fall apart later in the story, as I am 100% certain they inevitably must because this IS clearly a tragedy, you have THOSE moments to look back on, and those bonds that WERE once there–so if/when the hate and vitriol starts, its not just hateful people being angry and screaming at each other because the writer has no other way for them to interact–it is, as I’ve already said so many times, *tragic.* It’s a father and son who come to blows because of irreconcilable differences, not Michael screaming at his wife and son because that’s literally the only way they ever interact. You know?

      1. John says:

        Well, I think moralizing is part of what makes a Western a Western, honestly–especially a modern one. You either have the old-style moralizing of the Spaghetti or John Wayne style Western, where White Hat is Good, and must Defeat the Black Hats of Evil because Good Triumphs; or you have, as RedRock says, the revisionist, more modern Western, that moralizes by examining, and ultimately tearing down the majority of, the simplistic morality of its predecessors.

        I know that this is just an aside and sort of incidental to the point you’re trying to make, but I don’t think that it’s a fair characterization of old westerns. It’s true that there are westerns like that out there and that the White Hat vs. Black Hat stereotype exists for a reason. I’d argue, however, that the White Hat vs. Black Hat stereotype is based mostly on western radio and television programs for children like The Lone Ranger or Hopalong Cassidy. Westerns for adults, including both Spaghetti Westerns and even a fair number of John Wayne movies have always included a certain share of, uh, let’s call it “more morally complex” fare.

        I mean, nobody in my personal favorite Spaghetti Western, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly is actually good. Clint Eastwood’s character may get the “Il Buono” title card, but he is, at best, the default protagonist and the film does not depict him as a white-hatted hero. His actions are no better than those of “Il Brutto”–who, frankly, is often more sympathetic–and only slightly less bad than those of “Il Malo”. In the three-way standoff at the end of the film it’s hard to find a reason to root for him over the others that isn’t Clint Eastwood’s charisma. (Half the time I end up rooting for Lee Van Cleef’s charisma anyway.) The Good, The Bad & The Ugly isn’t a morality play. My experience of Spaghetti Westerns is limited to Sergio Leone films, but my impression is that few Spaghetti Westerns were morality plays. If I understand things correctly, they were mostly exploitation films.

        There’s also less “White Hat good, Black Hat bad” in John Wayne westerns than you might think. I could cite later Wayne films like True Grit, but I’d rather talk about 1956’s The Searchers. Wayne’s character in The Searchers, Ethan, is, arguably, the protagonist, but the film spends most of its running time making the case that he’s also the bad guy. Ethan isn’t a good person. He’s cruel. He’s racist, and not just in a “it was the 1950s and all the characters were sort of racist back then” kind of way. In the one conversation he has with the Commanche leader who kidnapped his niece, it’s Ethan who comes off as the asshole, and I’m pretty sure that that was the intended effect of the scene.

        To sum up, my point is that the western was a really popular genre for a really long time and that there have been morally complex westerns for just about as long. If that’s not the popular conception of the genre, then I’m guessing that the blame lies in the fact that Baby Boomers spent more time watching The Lone Ranger on TV as kids than they did watching Once Upon A Time in the West in theaters as young adults.

        1. Soldierhawk says:

          Nope, you’re 100% correct. I was very much overly simplifying to prevent my post from being *even longer,* but you are super correct. There are huge degrees and way more complexity to the genre than what I described.

          1. Platypus says:

            Interestingly enough especially with High Honour it kinda feels like it starts off like a more morally grey “modern” sort of western at least from my limited knowledge of the genre but becomes more of a black versus white hat thing by the end tho i guess they do their own subversion of that. I actually think the game works alot better because of how long it is, you slowly see characters change naturally as the gameplay hours role on and the in game days pass by. The tone shifts, which Gta 5 just butchered like by placing the Torture mission right next to Micheals Goofy semi comedic family sitcom bullshit, feel alot more natural cause they happen over time. Theres still some rather ehm “questionable” stuff in the side content like a weird ass couple of stranger missions involving this semi abusive Circus lady and her troupe of a midget magician and a large man with obvious mental deficiences who you have to “subdue” when sherry sends him wild. Its not very pleasant but at least its optional, I thought it was worth mentioning so as to not give the impression the game has completely removed the trademark Rockstar Non Humour that plagues too much of Gta. Its a lot better than Gta 5 by a long shot in every way tho and even the offensive bits seem to at least be less obnoxious about themselves which i guess makes sense since a big part of the Gta Brand is Controversy.

        2. Redrock says:

          If I recall correctly, back when the spaghetti westerns started coming out, they were already seen as subversive: darker, more violent, with cynical protagonists and few clear-cut heroes. But I’d argue that The Searchers is very much an outlier among the classical westerns of the 40s and the 50s. For every Ethan you’d have a dozen of generally likeable lawmen and cattle drivers as protagonists. Even Shane is a pretty nice guy, especially compared to The Preacher in Pale Rider, which was basically Clint Eastwood’s reimagining of Shane. I think the popular conception of the classical westerns as simplistic stems from the fact that for a time they were among the most common types of movies in Hollywood, so there was a lot of mediocre, basic stuff, and a lot of them just kinda get lumped together. In contrast, for the last half-century westerns have become increasingly rare, so people pay more attention to the nuances.

          Funny thing is, the classical westerns still comes back sometimes in weird forms. There was a Danish western that came out in 2014, The Salvation, helmed by Kristian Levring, a lesser known follower of Von Trier. The cast was a-fraking-mazing, with Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It’s a cool little movie, but it’s traditional through and through – a peaceful settler’s family get killed by local bandits, the settler is eventually forced to fight for his life against the big bad robber baron. There’s also something about oil, but who the hell cares. If the movie had come out in the 40s, it would have been lost in the deluge of similar films, but in 2014 this old-school approach seemed downright fresh.

  2. tmtvl says:

    Typo Patrol:

    the last time we had SolderHawk

    Should probably be SoldierHawke.

    1. kunedog says:

      also

      I don’t know if I’d find this game fan, but it LOOKS amazing.

    2. Joshua says:

      Maybe she solders too.

      1. RFS-81 says:

        She solders hawks? Maybe r/BirdsAreNotReal does have a point.

  3. Lino says:

    I love the way Valve designs single player games. But as amazing as their tricks are, they are definitely not foolproof! Case in point – using sawblades in Ravenholm! During my first playthrough, I never got that that was the intended way of killing all those zombies! Which made the whole level all the more terrifying, because I was CONSTANTLY low on ammo!

    Now, in my defense, I was quite young at the time, meaning I was much dumber than I am now. That, and I had a very weird interaction with Half-Life 2. See, I adored the original (and all the expansions), but had missed the second game when it came out (didn’t read much gaming press at the time). However, with time, I began following the news, and became very excited when I found out threre was a sequel to my beloved game – apparently, it was called Half-Life 2: Episode 1! I know, weird name for a sequel – I would have just called it Half-Life 2. But I was too excited to care, so told my mom, and she got it the first chance she got (we loved playing games together, and she liked Half-Life a lot, as well; wasn’t a big fan of the expansions, though).

    As the game started, I was more than a bit confused. Now, there were a few instances where I had some sort of idea what the hell was going on, but for the most part, this was the most confused I’ve ever been in my life! More to the point, however, I became intimately familiar with the Gravity Gun. And the most important lesson was “Blue Grav Gun = Fun, Orange Grav Gun = Useless”. That lesson was true in Episode 2, as well, except that you never got a blue Gravity gun. Which meant that – again – it was only reserved for puzzles.

    So, a year or two later, I finally found out about the actual Half-Life 2, but when I played it, I applied the same logic. I never used the Gravity Gun outside of puzzles, and that’s how I approached the sawblade in Ravenholm – a crappy puzzle made to hide a loadscreen or something. It wasn’t until I read an article about the genius design of Half-Life 2 that something clicked in that hamster wheel of a brain of mine, and I said “Ohhhhh, THAT’S what you were supposed to do!” So I replayed the whole game, just so I could experience it!

    Still, I’m glad I never found out about it on my first time through. Not only was it fun to fight a town full of zombies with no ammo, but it inspired a second playthrough some time later.

  4. Zeta Kai says:

    Beyond Blue sounds like a spiritual successor to Endless Ocean: Blue World, one of my favorite games on the Wii console. It is a gorgeous game-ified SCUBA sim, with hundreds of real-life fish to find, photograph, catalogue, interact with, etc. I played an absurd number of hours in that game, due to the compelling visuals, intuitive controls, compelling gameplay loop, and a ridiculous number of collectables. In addition to the fish, you can also scan for sunken treasure, unlock new gear, upgrade your abilities, and explore new areas. It’s a fantastic game, and I’m very glad that there’s something else out there, where you can just relax and enjoy the undersea world, without having to murder everything in sight.

    1. Soldierhawk says:

      Yes! I never had a Wii, so I’ve never played Endless Ocean–but I DROOLED over that game for years and years and years, and Beyond Blue FINALLY scratched that itch for me. If you enjoyed EO, I cannot recommend Beyond Blue enough. There’s not a ton of story there, but after you finish the game you can free dive in any place you want to find all the animals and such you missed. Wonderful game; and its one of those I think that, if it SOUNDS like you’d love it, you almost certainly WILL.

  5. DeadlyDark says:

    I feel a little stupid. I meant to add that I was talking about Xen part of Black Mesa, but alas

    1. Soldierhawk says:

      No worries! You’ve primed me, so now I’ll specifically be on the lookout when I get to Xen.

      I’ve just started the bit in the Lambda Reactor Core, so it shouldn’t be too long.

  6. ulrichomega says:

    The hosts list still says Paul is hosting this week. I haven’t listened yet, but that doesn’t seem right from the title.

  7. Philadelphus says:

    Regarding the lack of painting mechanics in Eastshade: well, as an “actual painter” (whatever that means), I didn’t mind that you didn’t need to move a brush around on the virtual canvas. Photography is basically painting with everything between “inspiration” and “finished product” cut out, and I don’t consider that cheating or anything. I guess a big part of what I enjoy about painting is the physical act of painting itself, mixing paint and moving it around the canvas (by brush, and especially by palette knife), so I don’t mind that that aspect is absent, as there’s really no way to replicate that feeling in a game. It’s like games that abstract away cooking mechanics so that you just mix a bunch of ingredients together and out comes a perfectly baked cake or whatever. Physically handling the ingredients can be fun in its own way, but in a game I’m fine with cutting out intermediate steps to get the finished product faster.

    I’m kinda with Shamus on the animal-people; I can handle all the other anthropomorphic animals just fine, but not the deer people.

    Regarding the “gentle mysteries” in Eastshade: SoldierHawk, have you found That One Mystery waaay up in the frozen north by the glacier? You’ll need to circumnavigate the island by boat, which given what you said about them I’d understand if you haven’t. I got there and felt like the game took a sudden sharp (and interesting) turn into psychological horror for this one quest line. (Spoiler: ultimately it works out alright in the end so it’s more of a subversion, but it has a strikingly different feel to the rest of the game while it’s going on.)

    Sorry for spoiling Shamus on the future quest there! Good point about the boats, I agree that the mechanics are quite clumsy. They were an interesting way of gating travel and getting around (and you can get some lovely vistas from off the coast), but could’ve been done a lot better. And I think I agree with what SoldierHawk said about my idea for expanded painting mechanics; I think they could make for an interesting game*, but they would be out of place for Eastshade.

    * I think a game about being a painter in the Renaissance, where it’s kind of a mix of Eastshade and a more pragmatic business simulator, could be interesting. Like, you’d need to balance taking commissions from patrons with doing the works you want to do, while procuring pigments and training your apprentices to mix paint correctly and do the background work for you. Renaissance Artist Painter’s Workshop Simulator, I guess.

    Also, I know it’s not reflected in the spelling (so I’m not faulting Shamus for it!), but my last name is actually two syllables, “Ber-key”.

    1. Joe says:

      I looked at a pic of the deer people on Steam. I think I know what the problem is. They should have fur. Or something resembling fur. Real deer do. Plain old skin just looks wrong.

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      Regarding that one quest up north, I found it too and it did indeed feel different from the rest of the game. There’s an undertone of magic running through the game, but it’s not clear if it’s real or fable or what, so when they started talking about supernatural stuff I was bracing for a reveal that “Magic was real all along!” The truly odd occurrence was when I was walking back from talking to the female bear, and I saw a figure walking along the top of the ridge to my left (the East). I tried to follow it by climbing the ridge but the invisible walls prevented it. Was it an intentionally animated hallucination? Or some sort of weird glitch in the game? I wish I had whipped out my canvass real quick and made a painting, but I didn’t think of it in time.

    3. Soldierhawk says:

      Oh I absolutely have found That One Mystery. I’ve completed the game two or three times now, and that is actually one of my favorite parts. It’s a bit *different* than most of the rest of the game, but not in a bad way. I won’t say much more in case Shamus reads this, but I do love that quest and its resolution.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Yeah, it’s different enough from the tone of the rest of the game that I genuinely wasn’t sure what to expect from it (as Paul also mentions above), which was an interesting change. I like how it ended though.

  8. John says:

    I haven’t played Black Mesa, though I did play Half Life. I can’t say I noticed what Asdasd was talking about, but then again I wasn’t looking for it. I associate with the Rule of Three, which I was not aware had an actual name, with stories rather than with videogames. To me, the Rule of Three is a story-telling trick that I stumbled onto more or less by accident over the course of years of telling improvised bedtime stories. The first incident in the story establishes the premise. The second incident raises the stakes and establishes that the premise is part of a pattern. The third incident subverts the pattern in a climactic and hopefully humorous or unexpected way. I figure it’s about the bare minimum you need to tell a complete and satisfying story. It’s also a useful framework to have in the back of your mind as you desperately try to cobble together a half-way decent narrative based on such child-provided prompts as “cats stealing furniture”.

    You know, I never thought much about story structure before I had a kid. Parenting challenges you in some very unexpected ways sometimes.

    1. Fizban says:

      I also did not notice dogmatic repetition of challenges in Black Mesa, any more than a game normally repeats its challenges. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if areas I found to drag on a bit long were “forcing” a set of three when two would have been fine.

  9. Alex says:

    Shockingly Eastshade was mostly made by one person, I think he hired a character modeller and programmer over the course of development. The devblog is well worth a look -https://www.eastshade.com/devblog/

    I’m glad you’re enjoying it, I’m with SoldierHawk with this being a real gem and probably one of my favourites too.

  10. Dreadjaws says:

    Red Dead Redemption has the advantage that morals were less “restrictive” back then. Seeing as it’s a period piece, people’s behavior seems more reasonable. Despite that, unlike GTA, the RDR games actually allow you to choose between being good and bad the majority of the time. This has very little effect in the main story, and it makes absolutely no change to the progression and the ending, which are strictly linear but it does make the world react differently to you and it lets you feel better about yourself, particularly when dealing with sidequests.

    Also important, the game isn’t trying to be funny. Sure, it has a few moments of humor here and there, but unlike GTA, it doesn’t try to pass itself off as satire, which as we know, is something Rockstar just can’t do. Which means that there’s no silly tonal shift between having you do something awful and then try to play it off as a joke, and the moments of humor the game has can be genuinely funny.

    1. Platypus says:

      Not to be all video game nerd here but i think your referring to the first rdr when you say your morality has no impact on the story. In the second RDR there are distinct missions and decisions based on hi-lo honour which changes the character arc of the PC and what ending they get. A big part of why that game works so well in fact for me is that “redemption” isnt something narratively forced but something the player has to choose, reinforcing the idea that the PC can easily choose to be bad and that doing better is something they need to work because of the outlaw lifestyle. In fact the Villian of RDR2 is really just a low Honour gta style player who always shoots up towns for little reason and always hits antagonize (he’s an alot better satire of the average gta player than Creepy uncle trevor tho hes still creepy af)

  11. Steve C says:

    @SoldierHawke, Tim Schafer wrote Monkey Island. So certainly a similar brand of humor. Here is the intro to Monkey Island 2 to see the dynamic. The joke being 90% of the game is Guybrush telling Elaine what happened just like that.

    I’m pretty sure that in Monkey Island 1 the first time Elaine appears she beats up Guybrush and robs him. His immediate response is something like “I’m going to marry that girl some day.” So it’s not like it is a big surprise or spoiler.

  12. I have been slowly playing through RDR2, but the main character is such a lunkhead that I find the experience to be rather irritating.

    There were several instances in which your character is having a heartfelt and important conversation with one of the women in the camp, when suddenly one of the men strides into the scene demanding your character’s attention, whereby Arthur “Lunkhead” Morgan complies without a moment’s hesitation. This happened so many times that I was hoping that the women would eventually revolt, abandon the idiot men, and form their own group.

    Good luck with your playthrough of RDR2, SoldierHawke! I hope you are enjoying it more than I am!

    1. Soldierhawk says:

      Huh–I haven’t noticed that (yet.) Do you mean that’s like, a scripted scene, where that happens? Or is it one of the psuedo-random camp events? I know there have been times I’ve been talking to people or listening to a song or whatever, and someone comes up to me (usually the Reverend, and he’s usually drunk, because the Reverend), but the game always gives me an option to stop their interruption/dialog and tell them to go away.

      I’ve never actually taken that option because I’m deathly afraid the events won’t repeat, but if we’re talking about *that* kind of thing, it does seem you have the option to tell them to take a hike, if you focus on them.

      That said, I’m not very far at all yet. If it has to do with cutscenes, then yeah, I can see that being super annoying.

      1. They have all been scripted cutscenes. They are triggered by quest markers on your map that usually read something like, “So-and-So wants to talk to you in the camp”.

        I’m over half-way through the game and this has happened enough times for me to think that it may be intentional. I’m hoping that it leads to an interesting plot development and is not just another reminder of how thoughtless and stupid the male characters can be.

        1. Platypus says:

          Are you talking about the ones where a little question mark pops up and one of the woman asks arthur to sit down? Cause i had the opposite problem where Ol Lunkhead kept listing out his sins of how kept killling good folk and im just staring at my high honour meter liek dafuq. Even in the main storyline scenes characters just constantly interrupt basically any convo half way through to tell you “So ARTHUR I HAVE A PLAN” which inevitably means shooting a couple dozen ppl for a similar payday as working a minimum wage job these days for a week. I think it is intentional in a This is why nobody has the chance to change or do things smarter because any conversation to that affect gets cut short.

          1. Oh yes, I think we’re referring to the same thing. I also rolled my eyes pretty hard at Lunkhead’s insistence that he’s a “bad man”. You’re not if I say you’re not, buddy!

            1. Platypus says:

              Yeah that is kinda sad to go through especially as things take a turn for the even worse. I will say there is a worthwhile payoff for all this stuff tho :) (Lunkheads low self esteem and the thoughtlessness of its characters that u mentioned)

  13. Borer says:

    I really want to like Eastshade, but when I played it way back in March there were two technical issues that kept me from enjoying it:

    First, the game doesn’t allow You to rebind keys. This may or may not be an issue if You use a standard American keyboard layout but for the rest of the world this is a major accessibility issue (e.g. how would a Russian person use WASD to move around if their keyboard is entirely in Russian / Cyrillic script?). According to the steam forums the devs allegedly said (in an email to a complaining customer) that key rebinding will not be implemented. I haven’t played enough to know if my non-american (but still western) keyboard layout will ever be an issue as the game doesn’t even let You look at all the key bindings. Part of this problem is that I have to use the left mouse button to talk to people. LMB is my dedicated “shoot stuff” button and after 20 or so years of this I don’t think that’s ever going to change. That feels really jarring. At least You can actually invert the mouse.

    The second issue is missing graphics options. For me specifically it’s the strong vignette effect (the screen always has dark corners). This effect always makes me feel like there’s some movement at the corner of the screen whenever I turn. Then I remember that I’m not actually a painter in Eastshade but it’s all just a video game with a visual effect that keeps distracting me. This game, as far as I can tell, depends heavily on immersion and this one effect just kills that for me. I hope that pointing out this vignette effect will not lead to a “can never be unseen” situation for anyone reading this.

    On top of that, there’s also the fact that I bought the game on a steam sale and haven’t played it until after the 14-day time limit for refunds had run out. But that one’s on me. Still salty, though.

  14. Borer says:

    Regarding Monkey Island and switching back and forth between old and new graphics: Yes, this is a thing in the Special Editions of Monkey Island 1 and 2. I think they still use the SCUMM engine (although modified to support modern resolutions and such). They also did the same thing for Day of the Tentacle, the Maniac Mansion sequel. The special editions of Monkey Island also have fantastic voice acting and a better soundtrack (the same songs, but with actual instruments instead of just midis). If this doesn’t sound enough like a sales pitch already: They are available on GOG which means no DRM.

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      Its nice that other remasters also do switching between old a new graphics on the fly – C&C remastered and Halo 1/2 Anniversary

  15. Asdasd says:

    Red Dead Redemption definitely just moved way up my list of things to get around to. It sounds like Rockstar at their best, similar to Max Payne 3. That was also a game set in a horrible world filled with deeply flawed people doing horrible things to one another, but while it was often bleak, it was never overtaken by nihilism and always kept sight of the humanity of its characters, even as they themselves were fumbling around for it. Evangelion is something else the discussion reminded me of, although obviously, there’s quite a discrepancy there in terms of genre!

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been more controversy over Shamus’s pronouncement of three – just three! – as the perfect party size. Grognards should have come spilling out of the woodwork to argue the toss as to whether the correct answer was actually six or eight! For starters, where in a party of three is there room for the thief/skill mule? Spread the skills evenly among the party? Fie, sacrilege!

    I’ll concede that in the age of 3D, third-person games, anything bigger than a party of three quickly threatens to become unmanageable. What I would argue above all is that the ratio of potential to active party members needs to be in harmony. Offering plenty of choice is a good thing, but if you have too many NPCs per available slot you are only cranking up the tension over opportunity cost in the player’s mind. A smaller party requires a smaller cast, but the upshot is that this should theoretically free up more resources to really flesh them out.

    1. Soldierhawk says:

      On RDR2, I actually spent a bit of yesterday and today re-reading Shamus’ retrospective on the GTA series (while waiting for Windows Updates to un-eff themselves….sigh), and the feel of RDR2 reminded me a LOT of his take on the tone and relationships in GTA:SA. Sure, the Grove Street Gang aren’t good people, but they DO love each other in the end (even when they fight and disagree and scream and shout), they DO care, and the game allows those moments of love/care/sentimentality to actually play, as opposed to diffusing them with a joke, or not taking them seriously.

      If that sounds like what you want, I think you’ll like RDR2. It’s not perfect, but its far more good than bad, and (at least so far) NOTHING that’s made me want to walk away in anger. Well–that’s not entirely true, but I was mad at the CHARACTERS (in a good way), not at the game for making me suffer through something needlessly horrible or ugly.

      1. Asdasd says:

        Oh, you’ve shamed me. San Andreas has been on my list for decades! I did manage to knock out Vice City and Bully over the years, and enjoyed them both. Rockstar are weird aren’t they? In many media the most successful products are a sort of inoffensive soup, like Friends* or Garfield, but their work is a mishmash of extremes of goodness and badness all jumbled together.

        Hope you have fun with Monkey Island, if and when you get around to it! The Ace Attorney trilogy is also fantastic btw :)

        * Inoffensive at the time it was released, at least.

        1. Soldierhawk says:

          I have heard so much about Phoenix Wright.

          Ok. Time to get on the MI and PW train. All aboard!

          (Also, San Andreas is a bit rough now in terms of mechanics–especially on the PC, though it holds up much better on console I think), but the story is well worth the effort–as is the amazing technical achievement for the time, if that’s something you appreciate!

          1. Nimrandir says:

            Interesting. I received a PS2 copy of Vice City earlier this year when my wife’s boss was clearing out stuff, and I got stuck on the first mission with the first-person rifle. Try as I might, I just could not line up a shot. To make matters worse, any video assistance I found was clearly using mouse aim, which only made me feel more inferior. I gave up after fifteen or so tries.

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