I don’t know why I had so much trouble speaking English this week. It’s the only language I know, and it seems like I need at least one to do this jorb.
Direct download (ogg Vorbis)
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Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.
00:00 My computer is fine again.
07:03 Into the Breach
08:42 Blender is more fun than gaming.
Caution: Tastes vary.
24:07 Browser outdated
24:37 Web-browser integration nonsense
30:06 Mailbag: My Sloppy Diction
Hello Die Castians,
I was listening to Die Cast #312 in podcast form and you said about a game that wasn’t Phantasy Star Online 2: “It was clear that they didn’t spend a lot of money making this (offal | awful)”
So which was it?
31:55 Mailbag: Where Have All the Cursors Gone?
Hope you’re doing well! In recent years, I can’t think of a single AAA game that has a custom mouse cursor for the menus (i.e. the main menu and inventory screen). They pour all these millions to make these games, yet they can’t spare the short timeit would take to make a custom mouse cursor? What gives?
One of my favourite features in old games was the custom mouse cursors they had – the lightsaber in the Jedi Knight games, the different hands in WarCraft, based on the race you were playing… I even remember a mediocre Diablo clone where your cursor was a fairy, who was an actual character! She talked to you, and even served as your light source in dungeons!
Keep Being Awesome,
39:43 Mailbag: Remaster Problems
I am growing increasingly frustrated by remasters/ports/remakes of older games. I’m a bit of a stickler for getting somewhat of an original experience and a lot of these efforts tend to be compromised in some way. Dark Souls Remastered has changed lighting, Halo Anniversary has graphical glitches, Batman: Return to Arkham has weird textures, the list goes on. And that’s not even getting into completely botched titles like Warcraft 3 Reforged and Silent Hill HD. So how much does this bother you guys if at all? What’s your personal “purity” threshold. I suppose a relevant question for Shamus would be how much could a Mass Effect 1 remaster be changed until it’s not worth the purchase anymore.
Kaden (or Kaidan if you’d prefer)
49:27 Mailbag: Sam Hogan
Both of you have been working on procgen projects dealing with 3D spaces, so perhaps you will find this helpful. My son & I have recently found a YouTuber who seems to have similar interests to yours, particularly in regards to game design. Sam Hogan has made a game with infinite levels, a Minecraft clone in 24 hours, & most recently a Minecraft clone without the blocks, all using procgen in Unity. His channel seems to be gaining traction, & since his interests align with yours, I thought that you should at least be aware of his existence. I hope that this message finds you both well.
P.S.: For full disclosure, I will note that I am (probably) not Sam Hogan, & I am (definitely) not affiliated with him, other than (usually) liking his content (mostly).
It really is a good channel. If you like my programming posts, it’s worth a look.
52:40 Mailbag: The Spec Ops of other Genres
I finally got around to playing through Spec Ops: The Line. (Better late than never I guess)
Obviously the game’s main achievement is it’s complete subversion/dissection/criticism of the military “bro” shooter genre of games.
What other genre of games do you think could use a similarly scathing and ruthless deconstruction?
Maybe JRPGs? Showing that sending a bunch of emotional teens to save the world isn’t the best for their well being?
Thanks for reading and keep on casting die!
??:?? Wait? What are we talking about? How did we get off-topic again? Who’s in charge of this circus anyway??
The Disappointment Engine
No Man's Sky is a game seemingly engineered to create a cycle of anticipation and disappointment.
The Plot-Driven Door
You know how videogames sometimes do that thing where it's preposterously hard to go through a simple door? This one is really bad.
This is Why We Can’t Have Short Criticism
Here's how this site grew from short essays to novel-length quasi-analytical retrospectives.
Mass Effect Retrospective
A novel-sized analysis of the Mass Effect series that explains where it all went wrong. Spoiler: It was long before the ending.
A screencap comic that poked fun at videogames and the industry. The comic has ended, but there's plenty of archives for you to binge on.
74 thoughts on “Diecast #316: Stumble Mouth”
Knowing how much Japan loves edgy, grimdark genre deconstructions, I’d guess that this has been done north of a few thousand times. Not necessarily as games, though – this stuff tends to proliferate first as a mass of light/web novels (which have much lower barriers to production), then the popular examples are picked up by established studios and developed into manga, anime or games.
Only a handful of stories are edgy deconstructions. For every one of those there’s a thousand light novels and manga that are of the generic “highschool boy ends up in another world/special highschool and then becomes the hero”. Heck, a while back the “another world” genre became so overused you started to notice the desperation. Like “I Reincarnated Into a Vending Machine”. It’s just that evangelion was one of the biggest anime ever and was an edgy deconstruction.
Speaking of which, I think there is a JRPG that is a deconstruction of the genre. But it’s name eludes me.
TV Tropes is suggesting Chrono Cross, the Tales series, Drakengard (and the Nier games).
Nier Automata gets points for taking the genre (and games and life in general) apart and then magnificently reconstructing them in its ending credits.
Drakengad and Undertale are both desconstructions of JRPGs, and Drakengard is in fact about how the heroes are complete psychopaths who are in it for the blood. I’m also watching Supergreatfriend play through Moon right now, which has Undertale-style themes: the quote-unquote ‘Hero’ is slaughtering innocent animals to gain experience points, and you have to put their souls to rest and save them from his bloodlust.
Wasn’t Earthbound supposed to be a deconstruction? Or was it just a parody?
Not sure it’s even a parody. It has good mechanics and plays well, the plot has a lot of slack but the goal is never out of focus, the jokes aren’t about RPGs so much as just dream logic; I’d say it’s just a really silly game.
I think I was lucky, when three years ago I tried to enter again the world of anime, after avoiding it after ten years, I started with Re:Zero (wanted to see, what this fuss about blue haired girl was about). Started silly, but quickly went into more serious direction, deconstruction even. Stuff that I like in any medium and setting.
I imagine, if I started with something like SAO, I’d avoid anime for another ten years.
Madoka Majika is also good deconstruction. SFDebris made a good series on it
Does Bravely Default count as a deconstruction? You’re on a quest to light up the four crystals, but it turns out that’s a very bad idea and the little faerie guiding you is the main villain. I don’t remember the details very well, but I think the Evil Empire are actually the good guys, kind of. They’ve shown some extremely bad judgement in selecting their generals, though.
While not a full and total deconstruction, I firmly believe that Tales of Berseria does a good job of subverting traditional JRPG narratives. What I love about Berseria is that the protagonist, Velvet, is out for revenge and stays single-mindedly dedicated to her goal of murdering the dude that wronged her throughout the whole runtime. At the beginning it seems that killing that fella might doom the world, but our protagonist doesn’t care. Towards the end it turns out, of course, that killing the guy would actually save the world, but the beautiful thing is that Velvet still doesn’t care. Sure, she mellows out a bit along the way, but you never really get the impression that Velvet wouldn’t readily sacrifice any and all of her teammates it it becomes necessary for her mission.
Velvet’s kinda like a much less honorable version of Roland Deschain from The Dark Tower novels – might occasionaly show a warm side, but her personal mission always comes first. Whereas in most JRPGs even the most initially cynical protagonists eventually become bona fide heroes intent on doing the right thing.
The best part is just how much the game undercuts her motivations as it goes; pretty much every single part of her motivation gets kicked about and called into question at some point, and who knows what she’s willing to do at the end. The game’s got some pacing problems and is still a YA anime game, but Velvet’s character arc is really, really good.
My subversion of JRPG tropes: a bunch of sensibly dressed, crotchety old people (i.e. over 30) use the power of self-doubt to resurrect God. There’s a sub-plot where the Space Pope turns out to be secretly a good guy.
And don’t forget that these five sensibly dressed people would also use *less* hair gel than the entire population of New Jersey.
I… I kind of want to write this story now.
So “Jordan Peterson and the IDW” the video game?
That’s just beautiful, man.
After I played my first three or four JRPGs, I went to the internet with a burning question: “Are there any JRPGs where you don’t fight God or the Devil at the end?” How vividly I remember the responses. There was “Um . . . “. and also “Well . . . ” but mostly quite a lot of “No.” Somebody claimed that you just fight an evil king at the end of, I think, Golden Sun but nobody believed him. This was back during the GameBoy Advance era. I’d like to think that things have gotten better since then, but with occasional exceptions for strategy or tactical RPGs my JRPG days are behind me and so I wouldn’t know.
At the end of Golden Sun 1 you fight the two enemies you’ve been chasing the whole game- fused together into a dragon by. . . an entity that displays a godlike power level and low empathy (but they were fighting you anyway). At the end of 2, you fight. . . another dragon made of fused people by the same entity, I don’t remember if the “god” gets some empathy. At the end of 3 you fight another people chimera, though that one seems to have been a freak occurrence rather than intentional.
You never directly fight or kill the one godlike entity, but you do effectively oppose them by the end of the 2nd game. Nor, irritatingly, do you ever kill the person behind all of it. They kinda left the third game open for a sequel, but the third game was kinda screwed by overreach (cram two games’ worth of cast into one game= literally half the characters are pointless) and they were apparently really expensive to make so no fourth game ever came.
Full Spoilers: A rather bigger question would be just what the hell is up with the “Wise One” in general. It wants to prevent the return of alchemy/psynergy, even though this dooms the world to literally eroding into nothing, okay. But where the hell did it come from? It clearly has supremely powerful psynergy of its own. Is it the reason the ancients were able to seal alchemy in the first place? It persists beyond the unsealing so if it was a manifestation it’s not any more. Did the ancients create it? And why is it such a dick?
I think the explanation for the Wise One is that it was created by the same ancients who sealed Alchemy – it’s basically a magic robot “programmed” to thwart any attempts to unseal Alchemy. The issue is that the ancients turned out to be wrong about sealing alchemy away, so following it’s programming kind of makes it a dick.
You’d think that with Nintendo’s censorship of all religious references back in the Super Famicom days there’d be a bunch of jRPGs where you don’t fight a deity or devil, but eh.
Reminds me of Final Fantasy Legend for the Game Boy, which is actually not a Final Fantasy Game. The whole game is about reaching the top of a tower, encountering God there, and fighting him. No intermittent plot stuff like FF VI where the villain turns into a god.
Today I learned that the final boss of Final Fantasy Legend is not female, like my friends and I presumed back in high school.
Also, don’t forget that your party climbs the tower twice.
I think Suikoden 2 ends in a fight with an Old Man. Never played it myself.
Dragon Quest 1 ends with fighting the Dragon King as a Dragon. That’s close to not being a god or a devil.
Trails in the Sky 1 ends with fighting a Revolutionary and an Ancient Robot. Not sure if that one counts since it’s a half-ending cliffhanger.
Smithy from Super Mario RPG is an interdimensional war entity with an unlimited army and insatiable desire for conquest. Totally different from a god or a devil.
Valkyria Chronicles has you kill God at the 3/4 mark and the final battle is someone trying to mechanically replace them. So… Mecha God.
Valkyria don’t really qualify as a godlike entity, I think. They’re very powerful superweapons, sure, but not quite Alpha and Omega level. Which reminds me, I really need to finish Valkyria Chronicles 4. I love those games, but never seem to be able to play them for long stretches before getting distracted by something else.
…well, in that case: Dragon Quest 4 has you kill the Devil at the 3/4 mark, and the final battle is someone trying to evolve themselves into a replacement. So… Bio Devil.
Ever since Final Fantasy IX I’ve suspected that there’s some sort of law in place regarding Gods and Devils as final bosses in JRPGs. Because in that game once you beat the main villain, who explicitly isn’t a godlike entity, you’re suddenly dropped into a battle with the personification of Death absolutely out of nowhere. Like, that guy was never mentioned before, but there he is, intent on destroying the world. Oh, and he literally teleports you to a goddamn coliseum for that fight. The only logical explanation is that the game was written and developed without that final battle, only for agents from the shady RPG Divinity Symbolism Bureau to knock on the door and very politely explain that either the developers hastily add a godlike entity or it’s black bag time for the whole of Squaresoft.
I’m close to the end of FF9 (don’t worry, I won’t complain about spoilers for ancient games) and even if you didn’t fight a god in the end, it would already be weird enough.
“Hm, I wonder what this mysterious figure wants to achieve by supplying the mad queen with weapons and egging her into one war after another.”
something something flow of souls something something fusing two worlds
(Or maybe the villain’s boss wants to do the something something and the villain himself just wants to be a dick. It’s not entirely clear to me at this point.)
“Oh right, it’s Final Fantasy. Should have seen that coming.”
I love the characters though!
It says a lot that VII is actually one of the more grounded Final Fantasies in terms of story. I mean, it boils down to an angry supersoldier infected with an alien parasite. No time traveling, no parallel planets, dream universes or whatever bullshit XIII and its sequels were going for.
I just finished it. Why is the bullshit diabolus ex machina quoting Star Wars?
The annoying part is that, at its core, the story of FF9 doesn’t have to be that incomprehensible. Kuja is created by an advanced but declining alien species to soften up another planet for taking over. He powertrips and rebels against his creator, which doesn’t make him less of a danger to the world. The rest is mystical magical technobabbel and a nonsensical ending.
Am I the only one who first thought of Animorphs(other Applegate’s series fit as well). It’s a young adult book series about Earth being secretly under invasion by aliens, and then there are other aliens one of whom breaks their rules to give a bunch of teenagers superpowers(they can learn to transform into any animal by touching it) and later the law-breaking aliens younger brother joins forces with them. You know, pretty typical young adult scifi series. I really liked the series as a kid.
But when you read the books as an adult, you start noticing that there are actually lots of really dark elements to the story. The first aliens(called yeerks) actually take over peoples brains, leaving the person helpless inside their own skull as the alien takes over their life, maintaining almost perfect disguise(the yeerk also gets access to the victim’s memories). The kids blow up the yeerk’s food supply to make them starve to death(which is a partial success, as the yeerks can still feed if they visit the mothership, but nevertheless a lot of junior-ranking aliens starve to death. Oh, did I mention that the yeerk dying is a traumatic experience to the victim being possessed?). The shapeshifting itself can be traumatic, because the animal’s instincts try to take over(and frequently succeed, at least temporarily). This is particularly bad when it comes to eusocial insects like ants and termites. In general, the teenagers feel more like child soldiers(with all the trauma that involves) rather than superheroes.
Crashed full screen application: Just press ctrl+alt+F1 and- oh wait, windows.
Oh, oh, I vaguely remember the protagonist being possesed by a yeerk and starving the thing out, even as they begin to form some kind of understanding/friendship/Stockholm syndrome thing. And I think I remember one of the kids getting stuck in an animal body.
I’ll be damned if I remember a single name from those books, but some of the concepts and ideas really stuck with me. There certainly was something to them, that’s for sure.
As for the USB-devices causing havoc with Windows Updates: obviously it’s not excused in any way – it’s just something I (and others) have noticed is very likely to cause issues, so it’s an easy thing to try and get around. Mouse/keyboard shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Having 10+ USb devices on one PC seems to me to be a very difficult thing for the PC to figure out what drivers matches to what device or something and it all just goes downhill. Not in any way an excuse, but, a sensible work-around.
Also, again, not excusing anything as their crap should Just Work, you – and a lot of users who often run into issues with updates – are not average users. You’re installing, uninstalling, re-installing, upgrading, downgrading, sidegrading, etc etc a whole bunch of software the whole time. More than likely you’re also someone who prefers manually upgrading drivers (of course you are, or should be – new drivers always cause issues), which means it’s quite possible that while all the peripherals you’re aware of are nice and up to date, there’s a few left over that you never bother with but are actually running driver versions from 5 years ago, which don’t recognise this or that new command they’re getting, and it all ends up as a soup. Your registry is probably clogged up with left-over junk from bad uninstallers, too.
There’s a curve to be made of computer users, which is some sort of reverse Gauss-curve. the VERY inept have a lot of issues (because they don’t know how to not click on “PRESS HERE FOR FREE MONEY” or because they don’t know what they’re doing); then the vast majority of users suffer relatively few and minor issues, and the more tech-savvy more intensive users face more issues again, because they DO know what they’re doing, but they’re doing a lot of it, try to make things work their way rather than the “intended”/expected way, and sometimes break things in new and interesting ways. You are, of course, on the right hand side ofthat curve ;-)
I have also observed this curve! When I used to code things for others to use as a hobby I liked to try to have at least one user on each end of the curve bug test each codething. I didn’t really need assistance from folks in the middle. XD
I know where Paul’s coming from with Into the Breach; I loved FTL (as my 413 hours on Steam show), so I was really excited to see Subset Game’s next game, and it just.…didn’t grab me. I put a bit under 9 hours into it, won a few times, unlocked a few new crews, and then just stopped playing and haven’t touched it since. I keep meaning to go back, unlock the rest of the crews, get some more achievements, but I’ve never felt like playing it again. It’s not a bad game, it’s got the same polish and passion evident in every animation and system in FTL, I just don’t feel like playing it, sadly.
For me, Into The Breach (ITB) just didn’t have enough content. The mechanics themselves were slightly more polished than FTL, but that’s all that was in the game – the normal levels. FTL had the mini choose-your-own-adventure choices at planets, the special blue choices that required certain equipment or crew, a much deeper upgrade system, and the boarding / crew fights. All ITB has is the main levels, almost linear equipment uprgades, and not much variety of equipment. Not a bad game, but I’ve only replayed it a few times, and Steam says I’ve only got 85 hours in it.
For me: this comment, but positively.
I liked that ITB was more focused than FTL – more systems would IMO, just distract from the tactical core of the game
I wouldn’t say more to more horizontal content (more mechs, more weapons, more enemies), but fundamentally I don’t think the game needs to be any more complex than it needs to be.
And I sure feel that I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of a $15 game, with the 50 hours I’ve put into it so far.
I’d have been happy if they only had like, 3-5 squads for the base game, and the rest were DLC. The price would have still been worth it! :)
I’ve got 25 hours, all squads unlocked, and I can see where this is coming from. Aside from challenge runs or achievement hunting to unlock the “secret squad,” I’ve seen the game and become proficient in it. Much like other games with strong mechanics and limited unlocks, once you’ve unlocked everything you only play because you feel like playing. I will undoubtedly feel like some more bug punching again, just as I do for shooting bugs in Deep Rock Galactic, but for now I seem to be satisfied.
-And it doesn’t help that there are so many achievements and medals that hunting them all seems like a chore with no rewards. You need every one of like two dozen cheevos remaining after unlocking all the squads to get the “secret squad,” and every squad has medal slots for finishing the game at all three lengths (which aren’t worth anything). Which causes a big enough break in unlock euphoria that it’s not a reason to keep going by itself, and the medals are just annoying- if it was just finish 4 islands with each squad, I’d fill that out as an excuse to keep playing. But it’s explicitly 2, and 3, and 4.
I think, when it comes to games, I’m more forgiving with remakes / remasters / whatnots. Mostly, because if I play one of those, its for the games, that I had not an opportunity to play otherwise (console exclusives, like Halo and Yakuza remakes), and some experience is better than none. With exceptions, of course. Say, I could play original Tomb Raider from GoG (if the GoG was a thing in 2007). But I was perfectly happy to play TR Anniversary, since it did provide me with a more hardcore version of Tomb Raider Legend gameplay, which I already liked.
Of course, I’d advocate for the original experience as much as possible. Say, Tex Murphy Overseer was a complete remake of Mean Streets. I’d still say, that one should play Mean Streets first – its a completely different game, plus it shows how technology progressed. It’s always interesting to see how the series progressed through time.
But the question of authentic experience is a bit of a slippery slope, in my eyes. I listened to a recent Martin O’Donnel interview, where he talked that the original Halo Combat Evolved experience is only possible if you connect original XBox to the contemporary TV of that time. Not sure, if I’m willing to go these lengths, just to see what this Halo crazy is about (where would I buy all of those now? And where do I place them?). (Speaking of Halo and Halo 2 remakes; it’s interesting, that CE remake visuals are somewhat inferior, gearbox bugs nonewithstanding, to the original aesthetics, while with Halo 2, new visuals are clearly more interesting to appreciate)
So, my position would be that it should be a middle ground between authenticity and practicality.
Wish I had more principled stance
You mention old TVs- that’s a significant problem with a lot of older console games. I played the hell out of Tales of Symphonia and Twilight Princess on the Gamecube, but they were actually at such a low resolution that putting Symphonia on an LCD makes it look so jagged that I don’t even want to risk trying TP, when so much of that game had a soft fuzzy glow to it. It’s quite clear that a ton of that visual must have come from the CRT TV, which I’m told are now expensive niche items, and without it’s probably an ugly jaggy mess.
Tales of Symphonia has a Steam version, which is even supposed to be the definitive one and can have stuff like the original opening movie forcibly restored to it, in addition to modern resolutions for modern monitors. But I stopped playing when I hit an emotional voiced cutscene they’d turned into salad, which the forum said had been busted for years, including similar problems at endgame that removed content via “if you go there your game will crash and die.”
Twilight Princess got a remaster, but it was on the Wii U, ha. I’d gladly buy it for Switch, but I doubt Nintendo will be so self aware as to order a port to rescue it from there.
I thought a deconstruction of ARPGs would be to show the player the construction of the weapon they just sold for 5 gold. Maybe the raising of the skeleton that wielded it. The building of the dungeon itself. Starts to sound a bit Dungeon Keeper-esque.
And Paul, good to know you’re doing all right. The news about the California fires has been pretty scary.
Thanks for your concern! They are far enough away that we’re not even getting ash-fall this time. It’s fun to be able to stare directly at the sun, and the smoke has kept the temperatures down, so it’s all upside for me!
I’d pronounce “offal” as a homophone of “awful”, with my…I dunno, Midwestern/Californian hybrid accent? Though admittedly, I can’t exactly ever remember hearing it pronounced.
For me the two words are almost the same, but the “off” in offal sounds just like the stand-alone word, but in awful, it’s a bit more slowly drawn-out like the word “awe”…which I guess is appropriate. :)
I feel like—and perhaps I’m unintentionally deceiving myself with this—when I “pronounce” them in my head, they have slightly different tones for the two syllables: “offal” is “high-low”, “awful” is “low-low”. But probably other people (maybe even I) wouldn’t be able to hear the difference if spoken aloud.
On the fable thing, the Third Fable leaned far more into the jokes and had a speaking PC. Its definetly far more leaning into the whole meta thing with a whole questline taking place in a bunch of D and D nerds board game and a decent bit of 4th braking in general in optional quests. The PC is still completely non plussed about the whole affair however and the main quest is still fairly straight faced it just now has the funny characters much more along for the ride than in fable 2.(Simon Pegg is your trusty loyal soldier pal for example and the voice cast of British comic actors has great fun in general with the material.) It does still have Reaver in it tho but at least the game kinda justifes why u cant just kill him beyond “we need this guy for our stupid macguffin plot” because hes the kind of guy who can shall we say come up with creative solutions for the creation of wealth which you will need when you take the throne after ur whole down with the king business. I will say the evil choices are alot more satisfying in 3 because 1 Theres a good reason for making the evil decisions beyond just being a dick (Money for an army to deal with an invasion) and 2 The sheer audacity of Reavers Money Making schemes and the way he politely sells them as being good for the very people they screw over is actually pretty funny. Doubly so when you find out making the good choices he has to grumblingly sell your actual benevolent policies with barely contained disdain
I guess the video game remakes/remasters phenomenon is a different manifestation of the movie remake phenomenon. If only the big blockbusters really make money and risk-taking doesn’t often get rewarded financially, then it’s “safer” to make something you already know has an audience. Like, Squeenix had to know an FF7 remake was basically a license to print money.
That being said, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with remaking or remastering. I tend to think the key from an artistic POV is to decide up front whether you’re being faithful to the original or creating your own experience and remain consistent to that vision.
(This is my position on making movies from books – you should either be as faithful to the material as possible (exemplar: Jennifer Ehle Pride & Prejudice) OR create your own story (Jaws). You should definitely not mix both together (LotR. Not that I didn’t like it overall, but some of the changes infuriated me, most notably making Eowyn comic relief and ruining her greatest scene. I know Talking is a Free Action looks silly on screen and she can’t give the whole six-sentence Badass Boast*, but there had to be something better than just having her screech “I’M NOT A MAN!!!” It’s not even the right emotion).)
*But no living man am I. You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.
And never, never, never overwrite the original. Best case scenario, the original is an option in the new version.
The whole linguistic loophole thing with Eowyn seems really silly either way, and the movie version at least seems fun and kinda badass. That said, I’m just not that much of a Tolkien fan, and I can appreciate that someone who truly cares about the books might be extremely annoyed. I mean, The Netflix Witcher is a crime against Sapkowski’s books, but good luck explaining that to someone who’ve never cared about them all that much.
Witcher series isn’t bad per se. I appreciate the choice of chronology, but I feel that episodes should be an hour and the half long, not an hour long, to fully show Geralt parts of the story (by using more or all elements from the books).
At the moment, Ciri and Yennifer stories felt more or less complete, while Geralt parts were criminally rushed.
Glad that Cavill had fun working on this, though.
Another problem with Witcher series, is that Amazon decided not to make Elric series, because its “too similar” to the Witcher. That’s a shame, really
Elric and the Witcher similar? Fuck the suits who can’t differentiate seminal works of fantasy
I never minded the linguistics, because that’s typical fantasy prophecy language right there. I did miss out on the “she reveals herself to the audience at the same time as she does to the villain”, which is arguably much sillier and requires a lot of writer sleight-of-hand to not mention certain things which would give the game away. Merry has spent several days exclusively riding with her yet is oblivious to this fact.
It’s not even a loophole; the Witch King is still immortal, Eowyn doesn’t kill him anymore than the flood did in Fellowship. It’s purely a morale speech.
Was immortal. His unlife ended when The Ring was unmade.
Merry stabbing him with the knife from the barrow broke the spells that knit his unlife to his body. Then Eowyn finished the job by driving her sword between his shoulders and his crown.
Again, it’s the emotion. Eowyn has spent her life wishing she could seek great deeds. She thinks it’s because she’s a woman that she was told to stay behind and keep house instead of going to fight (whether that truly was Theoden’s prime motivation, it’s what she thinks). Now here’s this guy saying she can’t even fight him and no man can defeat him. She can’t help but laugh. Not because it’s funny exactly, but her whole life it’s been hammered into her that she isn’t a man. So she throws that in the Witch-king’s face and tells him to get his fell beast off her beloved uncle. She knows perfectly well she’ll likely die in the attempt. She’s stern and grim and resigned in that moment – not screeching and hysterical.
Warning, post contains unshielded link to TvTropes.
It’s a very old trope, TvTropes gives a good list of examples under “No Man of Woman Born” including folklore and mythology.
I had the same experience with Into the Breach. It is a good game, arguably in some sense even a great one. I beat it, I worked out how to play it, and I was like, “Yeah, I’m not going to get super massively highly skilled at this, I guess I’m done.”
But, again, let me emphasize, I still think it was good. I got my money’s worth. I’m not unhappy. I’m definitely interesting in buying their next game. But, yeah, I’m not interested in walking through it all.
To be honest, FTL was the same way for me. Some people clocked in hundreds of hours in it. Me, I figured out what is going on and how to modestly consistently beat it, and I was like, OK, that’s cool, I’m done here. I’m not going to go up the skill curve to the next level. And, again, I definitely got my money’s worth and this is not a complaint. I was just done here.
/!\ATTENTION WINDOWS USERS/!\ Please open your tasks managers, click on “options”, and tick “always visible”. That’s right, the task manager CAN overrule the frozen applications it’s made to kill, it just natively chooses not to!
Welcome to the Blender fold, Shamus!
Nice to hear you saying you “know how to do all the things” (obviously related to modelling, I’d wager), considering Blender is actually way more than that. This is one of the high entry hit for most of the newcomers — you can do so many things with it, some better than others, that makes it difficult to focus on what your main interest should be, unless you’re really focused on a single aspect.
Would be a really neat challenge (after you dabbled a bit in its Python API) to try one of your procedural ideas “only in Blender” — you would not have to “go programming” somewhere else :)
Seconded! Blender was the reason I learned Python. I’d be glad to see some more proc-gen stuff in Blender.
“Proc-gen” and Blender can bring in a lot of … things ;)
For instance, if you’re looking into “proc-gen” geometry (modelling) there are a lot of tutorials, add-ons($) and public add-ons (e.g. the SpaceshipGenerator I’ve pointed to in your series, or the more recent BY-GEN dealing with non-destructive proc gen modelling).
But as mentioned, there are a lot of other “proc-gen” happening in the Blender “scene”, starting with “node based everything” (Animation Nodes, Sverchok or more recently Sorcar) add-ons, very nice “proc-gen” crowd movement (e.g. CrowdMaster), and maybe the most trending of them all “proc-gen” materials (now that the viewport/Eevee and Cycles are almost on par with regards to their “shaders”).
Not to mention older tutorial gems (old, like in python 2.x based, or Blender Internal or Game Engine based) that with some (most of the times intensive) re-work can be brought back to life.
I actually sent a question in last week but it didn’t seem to be answered here. Is there a backlog, or was it lost to the internets?
No joke: I read the question and decided there’s no way I could do it justice on the podcast. My plan is to cover it in an article of some sort.
Ah, thank you sir.
Your talk about using as few polygons as possible reminds me of this GDC Talk about true 8-bit art. Same philosophy, but from the point of view of an artist, rather than a programmer. Really interesting (and pretty!)
I had no idea that this talk existed and it’s the best thing ever, thanks for linking it!
My personal favorite screen saver app from the screen saver rage time was Opus ‘n Bill: On the Road Again. It should still work, since the specs say “Screen Saver is available for computers running Windows 3.1 or higher and Apple Macintosh System 6.07 or later.” Or maybe that’s a mis-read on my part. My future wife at the time loved the Bill in the fish tank.
It was even part of a lawsuit (Wikipedia link) over Opus shooting down the After Dark toasters.
Re: Into the Breach
Mechanically this game was solid. Interesting premise, neat and unique gameplay, and I too checked out after a few runs and said “yup, that’s about enough of that”. I think I was just unprepared to slot in the time to step up to higher and higher difficulties.
Maybe it’s the lack of much randomness in a given run. When starting a Normal run on FTL I can always wonder if it’ll be one of the particularly-hard runs that’ll test me down the line, so I still prepare and strategize and build my ship as though I’m going into hell. On the flip side if I step up to Hard maybe I’m hoping the randomness will bend my way and make this more doable for me. Without good or bad fortune blurring the challenge I am pretty certain I’ll win a normal ITB run and I’m pretty sure I’ll lose the Hard, and I don’t feel like sitting down to study the Hard skills. So I’ll stay right where I am. Meanwhile with randomness helping or hindering a run in FTL I’ll work harder and brush up for that little extra bit to maybe save a run.
I think there’s a sort of Uncanny Valley effect at play here. Either the game needs to be so close that it’s pretty much the exact thing I remember, or it needs to be different enough that it’s a game of its own. In the middle grounds, sadness lies.
Bringing an old game to a new platform like the System Shock reboot was hoping to, and maybe cleaning up the janky mechanics from the Blunder Years of “sorry, we’re figuring this out as we go” of gaming: great! It can preserve the story and what made the original game so memorable while making it more accessible both from hardware and gameplay points of view.
Bringing back the name and a loose aesthetic while retaining few actual mechanics like DOOM (2016) did? Also great! Oldschool “run fast and shoot things” sensibilities, but incorporating new things like the glory kills adds new depths to gameplay that the original didn’t have. It was a fun game and I love as much about what it didn’t try to bring back as what it did.
If I was a fan of Final Fantasy 7 I’d probably be pissed about this remake that’s half new and half old and another half delayed. Is it a new story? Not really. Is it the same old story? No, not really that either. It’s a new game wearing the skin of your old favorite game: blerrrgghh.
FWIW, I do remember telling the tale of my Banished villager starving to death while delivering food, so you probably did remember correctly Shamus.
Secret of Mana 2 (aka Seiken Densetsu 3) was really cool in this regard back on the SNES. You picked one of 6 characters as your main guy, and that choice also determined one of 3 different end bosses. There were three evil groups doing their thing (well, stealing world crystals as it it were), and you’d run into them all as you adventured. Then at one point, one group would backstab the other 2 and become the main threat.
The groups had different lairs for the final stages of the game – some harder than others (damn ninjas and their fullscreen attacks).
The end bosses were either Dragonlord, Archlich or … some demon iirc? I get that their power level ascended towards godhood at the end of the game, but neither of them were the world’s creator nor the devil incarnate. I remember the dragonlord being grounded in the lore of the game, having been defeated X years before by one of the characters’ dads, but the other two sort of came out of nowhere.
I think it led credence to the world, that the bad guys would eat each other until one was the last one standing, and that on different playthroughs you’d see different baddies winning.
Now known as Trials of Mana. It’s got a 3D version with terrible voice-acting now, too.
Over the years I’ve often found remasters to be disappointing, often fixing the things that didn’t need it, or even made things worse by leaving the actual problems that needed attention in place. There is one entry on the list recently, however, that actually quite surprised me with how well it was done considering the circumstances. That would be Command & Conquer Remastered, which just came out a few months ago.
I’ve long been a C&C fan, having grown up only a few miles away from Westwood Studios. The original team actually got back together and worked to keep as pure of an essence as possible of the original game. They remastered the audio, the interface and under the hood workings, and worked hard to update the full motion video (which was unprecedented for its time). That video is actually what has suffered the most and been least improved in this update, as the early CGI and compression of the original files to make it work for the game was so extreme that there was only so much that could be done to rescue it.
But it’s what they did to the regular in-game graphics that I find most incredible. They give you the option to switch back-and-forth between the original gameworld tiling textures and the new updated ones with a single key press as the game is running, with no pause nor requirement to fiddle with menu options, allowing you to simply relive memories or jump to play it as an updated version seamlessly. In fact, when the game starts for the first time, it actually still uses the retro options, and early on in the first level you are presented with the option in game to do the switch. I thought it was a wonderful touch and very well executed.
This isn’t the first game to done this on the fly switch visuals, to be fair. First two Monkey Island did it ten years ago (same 2D graphics), first two Halo games (way more impressive technically, since it switches 3D graphics)
But yeah – CnC Remastered is an exemplary work. Hope, EA will learn from it.
It did, though, changed gameplay, by the changing the interface (updating it to more modern standards). There was no production queues in Red Alert, for example.
I bought Banished in a fit and then didn’t play it, but I may give it a try if it’s actually pretty forgiving (even if it’s rather janky).
Props to Jolt for asking an interesting question, which I am not good at doing. I generally like my deconstructions to be on the lighter side as well, more of a P.G. Wodehouse or Austin Powers style than The Boys. I find the pretentious grimdark stuff to be far dumber than most of the things it tries to parody.
When u said P.g Wodewhouse i imagined the modern day grim dark reboot where jeeves has to cover for Bertie Woosters double life as a serial killer or something. Im not even sure how improbable that is in todays market?
I very, very much want to see Shamus do a let’s play of a JRPG in the style he describes. That would be awesome.
Also, Order of the Stick is worth looking at again- the strip has very definite breaks between storylines, so you can read up until the latest “Book” starts and get a cohesive story arc.
I have a trick for those fullscreen apps that decide to hide the task manager (really there should be an exclusive process manager like with the lockscreen, maybe a special shortcut). Hit Win + Tab, New Desktop. Once you’re in a new desktop you can then open task manager, or drag it from the other. Close the game, then close the desktop. Occasionally games will freeze in a way that also breaks alt-tab behaviour, but generally this works fairly well.
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