Diecast #317: Exapunks, Oxygen Not Included, Spider-Man Preview, Stormworks

By Shamus Posted Monday Sep 21, 2020

Filed under: Diecast 79 comments

Sorry my mic seems to be a little blown out this week. It sounded fine in my headphones, but… I don’t know. I try very hard not to fiddle with settings, positions, or volume levels during the week to avoid exactly this problem.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

Show notes:

00:00 Solving My First World Problem: The Keyboard lives again!

You can see my Favorite Keyboard Ever in the photos below.

08:26 Exapunks

Link (YouTube)

11:25 New Chair

This is roughly what you’d see with your human eyes if you came into my office:

This blurriness should be 100% blamed on my camera and not at all blamed on my ancient hands and nervous system for being unable to hold the camera still.
This blurriness should be 100% blamed on my camera and not at all blamed on my ancient hands and nervous system for being unable to hold the camera still.

However, it’s a bit hard to see what’s going on here, so let me open the curtain so the camera can make sense of this:

Okay, I turned off motion blur, but somehow I managed to turn on bloom lighting. Maybe I should switch to Direct X12 and enable anisotropic filtering?
Okay, I turned off motion blur, but somehow I managed to turn on bloom lighting. Maybe I should switch to Direct X12 and enable anisotropic filtering?

I realize these kinds of chairs are SUPER-common these days, but this is my first and I’m really happy with it.

15:17 Oxygen Not Included

Sounds like I should revisit this one.

18:31 The Most Unappealing Preview Ever.

Link (YouTube)

An expositional cutscene with no tension, followed by an introduction of some super-boring enemies, followed by yawn-inducing combat demo where the player spams overpowered spells rather than engaging with the combat mechanics, followed by a huge quicktime event.

It has overwhelming thumbs up on YouTube. Sigh. This is why we never have nice things.

31:25 Not Junk Mail
About twice a week I get emails from people who want to do “sponsored posts”. That’s where I let them post their garbage advertisements to my gaming blog. You know, stuff like diet pills, SEO schemes, oregano oil, and un-accredited trade schools with no web presence. Exactly the kind of content you come here for. In return, they’ll vanish without paying me as soon as the post gets indexed by Google give me $50.

There are only a few templates they use and I’ve seen them all multiple times. I’ve flagged every one as spam, and Google keeps delivering them because they’re coming from a new email every time.

For contrast, my website sends me an email every single week, from the same address, letting me know the backup is done and I can download it. Every week I tell Gmail the message is legit, and every week Gmail throws up a big yellow danger sign telling me that the message looks like a scam.

Current odds of AI dominating the world: Not bloody likely.

(Unless the AI’s goal is to just annoy us. In which case it’s working really well.)
And here is the promised image from the DMV website:

37:25 Stormworks

Link (YouTube)

42:18 Mailbag: Books About Games

In honor of the publication of Sid Meier’s Memoirs!, a book of, uh, Sid Meier’s memoirs, I must ask: do you ever read books about video games or video gaming? If so, what are some of your favorites? Mine is You, a novel about game development and the history of game development by Austin Grossman.


We talked about a few books on the show, including this one. Also, The Writer Will Do Something isn’t really a book, but it’s an amazing short-story that FEELS true if you’re frustrated with the state of AAA games these days.

Any other recommendations?

53:48 Mailbag: Satisfying Prescience

Shamus when you write these long series [Jedi Fallen Order], do you get some satisfaction when you see people talking about something in the comments and you’ve already written an in-depth piece on that and it’s coming down the pipeline?


Original comment for context.

Yes, this question is a bit meta and naval-gaze-y. I knew you’d say that. Also, I said “naval” instead of “navel”. I knew you’d notice that too.

59:28 Mailbag: Problems with Scale

Hi There,

I’m playing through Outer Worlds and have noticed that it makes me feel a little claustrophobic. At first I thought it was the level design. But then I thought maybe the player height was different or the models were too big but I can’t put my finger on it. Do you have any idea why this game might feel “smaller” (even the outdoor locations feel small)?

Rob Lundeen

The classic problem when designing 3D models for first-person experiences:

“Okay, I’ve measured a real-world couch, and I’ve built this 3D couch to match. Oh, but this couch makes the coffee table look like a toy. So I’ll make that bigger. Oh, but now the TV looks tiny. I can make that bigger, but now the room is way too crowded and the floor lamp is sticking inside the couch. So let me spread all these things out a little. Oh wait, I need to make the room bigger. Ugh. Now the front window looks wrong. If I fix that, then the front door will look weird.”

An hour later your boss comes in and demands to know why you built a furnished airplane hangar and he also wants to know why you’re currently measuring your trash can and suddenly you notice he looks much too large for the room and the printer looks too small and your cubicle is the size of a phone booth and you’ve lost all ability to perceive distance or proportion at any scale.

Or maybe that was just me.


From The Archives:

79 thoughts on “Diecast #317: Exapunks, Oxygen Not Included, Spider-Man Preview, Stormworks

  1. tmtvl says:

    Shamus, you were right: human blood IS cheaper than printer ink.

    Human blood is $1,500 per gallon, black printer ink is $2,700 per gallon, it’s almost twice as expensive.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Solution: print with blood.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Downside: Accidental pacts with Satan.

        “So, due to this contract signed in blood, you are exchanging your soul for … the elimination of all chickens?!? Not again!”

        (Yeah, I know it was intentional in “The Real Ghostbusters” …)

    2. The Puzzler says:

      You can buy gallon of printer ink for less than $100, as long as you don’t need it to be in printer cartridges.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        You can also obtain blood very cheaply and it comes in a self delivering containers…

        1. tmtvl says:

          And you get a free pizza with the blood. It’s a win-win all around.

  2. Joe says:

    The first episode I couldn’t finish. The editing is all messed up. You’re talking over each other, broken up by awkward silences in between. While I caught the gist of most of it, it eventually became too frustrating to continue. Will you post a better edited version at some point?

    1. Syal says:

      Sounds unnatural, like Paul’s audio got delayed by several seconds at various points.

    2. Shamus says:

      Fixed version uploaded. Should be good now!

      I mean, I haven’t listed to all hour and 18 minutes, but I did some spot checking and it seems correct now.

      1. Joe says:

        Much better! Thank you!

  3. Will says:

    As far as I know, the canonical explanation for the weird scale issues in video games is the refrigerator box problem—that is, from the perspective of the game engine, the player character is not an agile biped but a fridge box on wheels, and so spaces must be designed accordingly. Rooms with a totally normal amount of clutter in the real world don’t have remotely enough room for a refrigerator box to navigate through them, and so even relatively cozy spaces end up being stretched out, with vast areas between furniture and “narrow” hallways that are three or four meters wide.

    1. ElementalAlchemist says:

      It has nothing to do with the size of the player, but pathfinding. It’s expensive to do dynamically, so you want your walkmesh/collision to be simplistic. That means not making tight spaces that characters can get hung up on. Lots of straight lines and wide open spaces.

    2. tmtvl says:

      I wonder what it would be like to have a realistically proportioned world where we just make the PC very narrow. Could be worth a laugh.

      1. Shamus says:

        The problem with making the player TOO narrow is that it would let them press their “face” up against the wall, which would would penetrate the near clip plane, which means players would look through walls and see out of the level.

        Having said that, I’ve always wondered why nobody tried a narrow player on bottom, and then a wide collider on top. Sort of like a push up pop. This would let you navigate between the couch and the coffee table (or whatever) but would still keep you shoulder-distance from the wall.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          I think it’d work better[1] if the player was a non-symmetric ovoid. Like, you’ve got a fairly small collision distance to the sides, up, down, and behind you, but it stretches farther in front so that you don’t get the camera inside of things. The popsicle shape would get a bit weird, if the player crouches or stands up from a crouch, because of the different widths for their top and bottom. :)

          [1] Or at least the edge-cases seem like they’d be easier to deal with.

          1. tmtvl says:

            So an egg-like shape with a bit more mass in front…

            …you want to play a game where the PC is an American?

            1. Philadelphus says:

              Anything for better interior space navigation!

  4. Zgred77 says:

    49:30 – what happened here? I’m genuinely curious.

    1. Shamus says:

      Ok, so somewhere mid-show I changed position, bumped my mic, or made some annoying noise. (Beyond the normal annoying noise of me talking.) I said, “Hey Issac. Take that out and let me do that line over.”

      So then he uploads the show, and that bit is still in. I tell him about it, and he goes back to fix it. But when he cuts out the bad take, he DOESN’T sync both tracks. So then Paul and I are 20 seconds out of phase.

      He’s working on a fixed version now. Give it like 15 mins.

      1. Zgred77 says:

        Oh, I see. Thanks for the answer!

  5. Leviathan902 says:

    I got the exact same chair last week! I’m sitting in it right now. I even went with the fabric like you did (for breathability). We must have been in the same manufacturing run. I’m enjoying it as well!

  6. Dreadjaws says:

    I got annoyed because it looks awful. But I also got annoyed because everybody else seems so excited.

    Funnily enough, this is exactly how I felt about the original PS4 Spider-Man game. Everyone was bonkers about it and I was all like “Meh. Looks just like any other Spider-Man game, only more QTE-heavy”. The game turned out not to be so QTE focused at the end, and it’s clear they put those parts in the preview because they looked more cinematic, because apparently that’s what people love to see despite how much rage you see against purely cinematic trailers. It appears people are upset about cinematics because they don’t show gameplay, but they’re perfectly fine when the gameplay is cinematics. Go figure.

    But yeah, this one in particular looks they’re doing precisely what I feared: instead of fixing everything that was broken they seem to be unsure of what people liked about the previous game, so they’re repeating everything again. Yet again two factions of boring-looking enemies that fight against each other (replacing the Sable and Negative goons), Spider-Man being too distracted or dumb to stop a bunch of enemies that should be easily dispatched by him, combat powers too flashy to properly see what’s going on on screen and a complete failure to bring any interest to tertiary characters despite them being brought to the forefront (like the previous game did with Silver Sable this one seems to be doing with the Tinkerer).

    This is what happens when you overpraise a product and don’t take the time to discuss its problems. The creators think either you don’t mind or that the problems aren’t problems at all. Yeah, you, Shamus took the time to make a weeks-long retrospective doing precisely that, but I saw no one else doing it. Everyone else discussing the game was all “best game ever” and saying nothing negative.

    I’ll have you know, though, that Miles’ overpowered sting in the comics is the reason I could just not get into the character until Into the Spider-verse so yeah, the game seems to be a proper adaptation of him.

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      I have the same feeling with CP2077, tbh

      1. tmtvl says:

        Same. Also BG3 and VtMB2.

    2. Zekiel says:

      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one extremely underwhelmed by the trailer. I really hated the ridiculous power-armoured Sable goons in the first game, so now they’ve decided to create two factions of these guys so as to make their game’s realistic(ish) graphics look totally stupid.

    3. Steve C says:

      I could not get through the first 2 mins of the Spiderman game trailer. I got to the point where he started walking on the street and I was out. I do not see the appeal of AAA trailers. The EXAPUNK trailer was 10x better and I still didn’t like that one much.

  7. Thomas says:

    I’ve never experienced a mechanical keyboard, or if I have I didn’t realise it.

    I don’t know if the difference is good enough that it would be worth paying more / going out of my way to get one, giving my keyboard usage, especially as I normally use laptops. But I only ever hear that mechanical keyboards are better. I should try one one day

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Whatever you do, make sure to try out all the major types of mechanical switches, not just the ones that are popular. Ones that are silent, and ones that are “clicky”. “Linear” ones that are just a smooth press from top to bottom, or “tactile” ones where you can feel the actuation-point[1]. After that, you’ve still got options for how strong or light the spring force is! :)

      In my city[2], all the keyboards were the smooth but loud kind, so everything just felt like I was delicately typing on keyboards made for (noisy) butterflies. I really ought to get a sampler pack from Ergodox, so I can properly feel everything…but even that’s crazy expensive, and my current Logitech keyboard is “good enough” most of the time. ^^;

      [1] I think it’s technically just above the point where the switch sends a signal, but since after it passes the physical point, the momentum of your finger will carry it through, the distinction doesn’t matter most of the time.

      [2] We’ve only got one computer / tech shop, that has any kind of mechanical keyboards.

      1. Geebs says:

        Logitech’s mechanical Romer-G switches make me want to cut off all of my fingers and set them on fire. It’s a real shame, because otherwise Logitech stuff is pretty good. Oddly, I don’t react as severely to even the worst, most worn out membrane keyboard.

        TLDR: different mechanical switches are really different.

    2. Dotec says:

      I bought a refurbished Corsair MKB for a little over $70 half a decade ago, and I’d say that was a worthwhile investment. Like a lot of things, you don’t really appreciate the feel of them until you try using a regular keyboard again. After spending a weekend gaming at home with a mechanical board, I found I actually had to get used to my regular work keyboard at the office.

      If the wallet is tight and you have more important purchases to make, you’d be fine skipping on one. But like 4K TVs and curved monitors, it can be difficult to go back to the previous status quo once you’ve been spoiled.

    3. Steve C says:

      30 years ago “mechanical keyboards” were called “keyboards”. I object that they are “for gaming” and have a premium price. They are firmly in the same category as printer ink for me. Extremely overpriced price gouging. Thankfully I hate mechanical keyboards. @Shamus- I have a strong preference for membrane keyboards. I want quiet when I type.

      Keyboards are getting worse. My current keyboard is a logitech k120. My previous keyboard was both better and cheaper. Same with the one before that.

      1. Wolf says:

        I also prefer membrane keyboards, for their relative silence among other things.
        Got a mechanical keyboard (Corsair actually) some years ago because I wanted to invest some money in the tool I use most, but then I ended up giving it away as a gift and switching to the simple Cherry Stream 3.0 we also used at work.

        I think the strongest deciding factor was just the haptic feeling of typing. On the mechanical Corsair I felt slower, the presses where sharper and very linear. On the membrane keyboard there is a bump in resistance in the middle that you have to overcome, before and after the pressure required is lower, and I prefer the snapping feeling that this lends the key presses.
        Also I like having my keyboard slimmer and lighter without all the superfluous bells, whistles and RGB-leds.

        I must agree though that it breaks more easily. Had to replace one already because I got some water under “left shift” during surface cleaning.

  8. Vertette says:

    Just as you upload this podcast, Microsoft buys Bethesda. Talk about timing!

  9. Dreadjaws says:

    Unrelated to the discussion: Microsoft is buying Zenimax! I wonder if these are good or bad news.

    1. Syal says:

      And another one gone, and another one gone…

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        If it was EA I’d say sure, but I’m not really familiar with Microsoft purchasing and killing game studios. Not saying it doesn’t happen, just that it’s not something I’ve heard of. If anything, some studios they’ve purchased seem to have done well under them, since Microsoft hasn’t done a lot of interference. And Zenimax is already a terrible company, so it’d be hard for them to do worse under Microsoft.

        On the other hand, it is Microsoft.

        The one thing we can now count on is that Bethesda games are likely to skip Sony consoles from now on. Microsoft is really trying to pull hard this gen to attract gamers to their platforms.

        1. Thomas says:

          Microsoft had a bad culling of studios at one point. They lost interest in the PC market, and killed Aces Game Studio (Microsoft Simulator), Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires) and Lionhead Studios (Fable).

          They also for a long time looked like they’d run Rare into the ground, and they lost control of / stopped working with Bungie and Epic and replaced them with much more mediocre studios for their flagship titles, which left their portfolio in the sorry state that required all these recent acquisitions.

          So they’re not EA, but they also don’t have a track record of allowing studios to flourish. I’d say that Turn 10 (Forza) are their only truly successful studio.

        2. John says:

          It happens. It just doesn’t happen all that often because Microsoft doesn’t buy that many game studios. But if you want some examples, there’s Digital Anvil and Lionhead. Digital Anvil was the studio Chris Roberts founded in order to make the ultimate space game. Y’know, the first time. It didn’t end well for either Roberts or Microsoft. It was probably a mistake for Microsoft to buy the studio in the first place and killing the studio was probably an act of mercy. Lionhead was Peter Molyneux’s post-Bullfrog studio. Unlike Roberts, Molyneux successfully completed some actual video games while working for Microsoft. Unfortunately for our friend Shamus, those games were part of the Fable series.

      2. Joe says:

        Weirdly, that song was playing when I read your post. Some things just line up perfectly.

    2. tmtvl says:

      I think Satya just really wants F:NV2.

    3. AndrewCC says:

      Good news. MS is one of the most consumer-friendly game publishers at the moment.

      1. Duoae says:

        The key words there for me are “at the moment”.

        MS has a real google-like fickle attitude towards gaming – not the hardware, the software.

        – I mean, they can’t commit to anything on PC.
        – When they changed their mind in the mid-to-late 2000s they purged their studios until they only had 4 which managed their main Xbox IPs, after they had gone on a spending spree just around the millennium to acquire them all.
        – Being focussed on acquiring users is not the same as being consumer friendly. Gamespass is a ticking time bomb which could really destabilise the industry because one of the below things need to happen:
        A) either new additions happen more slowly or new releases don’t come to gane pass until much later than launch
        B) The focus on in-game micro transactions and loot boxes goes through the roof on titles released onto game pass.
        C) Game pass becomes a rotational service where content disappears from it at different intervals.

        Microsoft will likely have to kill some of these studios once users are acquired because you cannot replace the money from selling millions if $60/70 games with a $15 monthly subscription where revenue is shared across all games on the service! It’s not possible.

        Even streaming services have trouble with cheaper to produce series and movie productions with much larger worldwide install bases. Plus, individually bought DVD/Blu Ray and digital versions of those content exists as secondary revenue streams too.

        The reason gaming has increased in market value is precisely because people spend large amounts of money on it. Reducing that income will mean less games can be made without a huge sacrifice in either quality or content or pure number…

        My last point is that these aren’t small indie studios that are getting their chance at the big time (e.g. i the case of left 4 dead and portal), these are established juggernauts being bought up by an already huge player in the market…. and not just one huge studio!

        From a purely selfish point of view, potentially losing access to these games on playstation is a disaster, potentially losing these studios to mergers and closures down the line in 5 years time is terrifying.

        In contrast, Epic’s funding of content may be annoying but it’s not taking money away from the developers and publishers. Sony mostly bought or had primary and secondary developers, not truly independents. I’ve seen people mention wipeout but i don’t think psygnosis ever made it for pc, only the sales-flop, Sega Saturn, and i can’t think of any other independents that were absolutely huge industry juggernauts absorbed by another platform holder…

        1. Thomas says:

          I’m really curious if Gamepass will be a ticking time bomb. It can’t be even remotely profitable long-term in it’s current form. The question will be what happens when they decide to turn a profit.

    4. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I think that means they own both Obsidian and Bethesda? I wouldn’t say no to another FO:NV…

  10. Joe says:

    Every so often, you mention sodering. Is it what I call soldering, or something else? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldering . Outside this podcast, I’ve always heard it with the L.

    I’ve read Andrew Groen’s Eve Online book, but that’s more about player shenanigans. Also Jason Schreier’s book about the development of various games. They’re both worth a read.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      If I’m reading the IPA at the top of the Wikipedia page correctly, America pronounces it without the L, and Britain is with the L.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I can confirm the bit about America.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Up here in Central Canuckistan, it’s also pronounced without the L. :)

          1. Thomas says:

            I can confirm the UK pronounces it with an L. I’m surprised at the North America pronunciation, we normally mess words up more than you guys.

            1. Steve C says:

              UK added the L to the spelling after. Just so they could pronounce it. So… ¯\_(?)_/¯ Glass houses. Rocks.

              1. Joe says:

                Thanks. It’s good to be on the same page about what things mean, even if they’re spelled or pronounced differently.

    2. Douglas Sundseth says:

      For the full story on “solder”:


      The shorter version is that the original spelling and pronunciation were without the “l”. The “l” was added to the spelling in one of those, “English needs to be more like Latin” phases popular with a certain class of academics. And then the British (but not the American) pronunciation followed the spelling.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        The English language already has enough non-phonetic spellings…and then they added this to the mix. :|

      2. Joe says:

        Huh. Funny that the academics would take an interest in anything industrial, but there you go.

  11. Canthros says:

    There is a crowd that really likes … I think it’s Topre switches, which are a rubber membrane over a conical spring.

    I much preferred my Model M, and may go back to it now that I have a desktop with PS/2 ports, again, but have been using a keyboard with Cherry switches for … at least a decade, now. Those are fine.

  12. Lars says:

    I realy like those machine building games, like stormworks. Scrap Mechanic has by far the most playing hours in my Steam library. Main Assembly finally got rid of building in cubes. The final campaign of Trailmakers hoocked me until I had unlocked every single building part. Stormworks lookes intruiging. Building machines for a purpose and not just fun and looks is realy good. Rescue instead of battle non the less.
    Now I just need to find the time to play another game.

  13. Rob Lundeen says:

    Thanks for the excellent answer on the problems with scale! That was very thorough and explained why I found it claustrophobic. It isn’t one thing, it’s many! You guys are awesome!

  14. John says:

    I forgot the “Dear Diecast”? Oh dear, I forgot the “Dear Diecast”. Whoops!

    Well, perhaps I can expiate my sin a little by telling you about my keyboard preferences. I’ve used four keyboards lately: the keyboard on my laptop, a couple of wireless USB keyboards, and an older wired USB keyboard. I know the most about the laptop keyboard because it isn’t working properly and I popped off a couple of keycaps to investigate. (You may remember my e-mail about electronic device repair from a couple of Diecasts ago.) The laptop keyboard has rubber dome switches and the keycaps are attached to the board with plastic scissor-like mechanisms. I actually like the laptop keyboard a lot. It’s perfectly pleasant to type on. It’s just a shame that the rubber dome switches wear out so quickly.

    It’s not so obvious what type of switches the other three keyboards use and I’m not about to pop keycaps off working or mostly working keyboards in order to find out. According to the internet, my preferred wireless keyboard, a Logitech K520, apparently also uses rubber domes switches and scissor mechanisms. I’ve had it much longer than the I’ve had the laptop and it’s been much more reliable. The other wireless keyboard, a Gear Head product, which I am unfortunately using right now, is almost certainly a membrane keyboard of some sort, as it was far too cheap to be anything else. It must be using a different mechanism, however, because the keys are incredibly stiff and require more force than I’d consider normal to press. The final keyboard is an older wired Dell model which my wife acquired circa 2001. It’s probably also a membrane keyboard, but it might be my favorite. It’s got the most pleasant clicky-noise of the lot, a nice, long cable, and a couple of USB ports for daisy-chaining USB mice and such. If the space bar hadn’t developed a tendency to get a little stuck I’d be using it right now.

    With all that in mind, I guess that membrane keyboards with scissor switches are my favorite, at least until they stop working properly. It’s only a qualified endorsement, I know, but I genuinely do enjoy typing on them. One of these days I am going to order and install a replacement keyboard for the laptop so I can stop using this blasted Gear Head board. I am also considering getting a compact, numpad-less mechanical board for use with the laptop when I’m at home. Some of them are surprisingly affordable. Too many, however, seem to be aimed squarely at gamers who are willing to pay premium prices for a little added RGB nonsense.

  15. Douglas Sundseth says:

    As a photographer and scale modeler, I think I can add a couple of things to the discussion about scaling:

    1. People have no idea how big things are. E.g: The backs of couches come to about mid-thigh, the tops of cars come to somewhere in the middle of an average adult human’s torso (SUVs are noticeably taller, but still generally somewhere between the eyes and the top of the head), WWII tanks are only 1-2′ (30-60cm) taller than a standing man. And so on.

    2. The hyperfocal distance of a human eye (assuming that no glasses are needed) is around 20′ (6 m), so if you’re focusing on something that far away, everything from about 3m (10′) to infinity is in focus.

    3. Rather than playing with focus to show distance, play with saturation and contrast. Colors become noticeably less saturated and contrasty as they pass through more atmosphere, trending more towards gray. You can really see this if you’re in a place with lots of either humidity or pollution.

    4. To some extent you will also get a slight color shift with distance, toward blue with clear/humid air and toward orange/brown with pollution.

    1. Kathryn says:

      I just stood behind my couch to check, and it’s above my waist, a good foot over anything I’d call mid-thigh (and it’s not a high-back couch at all). Also, I can’t even see the whole roof of my car (mid-size sedan) when I’m standing next to it. So either your couches and cars are tiny, you’re extremely tall, or I’m extremely short. I’m going with the “you’re extremely tall” theory.

      1. Daimbert says:

        I’m about 5’9” and my sofa is about mid-thigh and I can easily see and reach over most sedans while standing beside them. Sizes may vary on all of these things, but I can’t say from what he’s said that he should be considered extremely tall.

        1. Syal says:

          That’s a thing to keep in mind, women are significantly shorter than men on average. 5’9″ vs. 5’4″, apparently.

        2. Kathryn says:

          I’m 5’1″, so I was being silly. I can actually step into my husband’s sweatpants and pull them all the way up to my clavicle. Like that bit on Everybody Loves Raymond when Robert’s girlfriend comes running out wearing only his pants pulled up to her neck…except for real, not in pants altered purely for the joke. (I can’t do it with real pants, though, only sweatpants)

      2. Echo Tango says:

        It also depends on the style of couch too. The top of my couch comes up to mid-thigh, but my mom’s couch is up to mid-chest. Mine only supports about 3/4 of your back, and hers supports all of your back, plus your neck and head.

      3. Douglas Sundseth says:


        I’m about 6’1″. I used to be about an inch taller, but age and a couple of fractured vertebrae subtracted some. So my legs are about what you would expect of a moderately tall man, but certainly not basketball-player scale.

        The couches (I checked three) were all about 32″ (80cm) high at the backs. The car is a Hyundai Sonata, which is a fairly typically sized 4-door sedan.

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      Good numbers there. I think I was mixing up infinity focus of 20′ from an experiment with VR I did a while back, trying to measure the maximum distance at which binocular vision could discern depth (without head motion parallax). I think it came out to 20m, so I probably pulled that number, converted the units, and spit it out.

      Yes! Contrast reduction is what I was trying to get at with the “atmospheric haze” comment. As with anything else, you can overdo it and land in 90s fog bank territory, but it’s surprising how effective well-implemented haze can be at invoking scale.

      Got any photos you can share?

      1. Douglas Sundseth says:

        I have an older Flickr page that I haven’t updated in … some time:


        I keep meaning to put up more recent stuff, but life.

  16. Thomas says:

    Paul’s point about distance blur is fascinating – I definitely had the same problem with Outer Worlds. I get the feeling that small details like that are the sort of thing Obsidian aren’t very good at. Their visuals tend to feel less than the sum of their parts – and they often end up with the ‘rat maze’ or ‘boring brown’ problem. A devil’s bargain in exchange for their writing staff!

    It also reminds me of the sitcom distance problem, where the old three-camera sitcoms always took place in absurdly large flats. Monica’s appartment has some massive floor spaces (look closely at the foreground), hidden carefully by some good set-dressing and camera angles (that rug breaks up the corridors well).

    And it’s because they want a nice big space where actors can move around without bumping into each other, and they can get a wide variety of visuals in a set you’re going to see again and again and again. But they want you to feel like the space is normal.

    1. Thomas says:

      Ted’s apartment in How I Met Your Mother is an even better example, because they wanted it to feel cosy, cluttered and cramped, which they did by having a really busy background when you look at it straight on. But when you look at it from a high angle that sofa is a little island in a sea of floor.


  17. Zak McKracken says:

    “Current odds of AI dominating the world”

    I’d say you just presented an example of how AI (really shitty AI at that) is already dominating part of the world. Not because it was so smart it took over but because too many people are lazy enough to hand it the keys. Gmail is by far the biggest e-mail provider, and it does these things (and worse, just not as easily visible), and nobody seems to mind enough to remember that there are alternatives, and Google doesn’t seem to mind either.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Part of it is that for most people, most of the time, the spam filters work well. But if your legitimate emails happen to trigger the spam-filter, your handful of votes aren’t enough to sway what the machine learned from millions of other peoples’ examples. ^^;

  18. Steve C says:

    Regarding books- download them from your local library. That’s what I do. They have a system. Books like Sid Meier’s Memoirs and the ones Shamus and Paul mentioned are exactly the types of books they carry. And if they don’t, they’ll have physical versions that you can get via inter-library loans even at the smallest libraries. Libraries are great.

    1. John says:

      Seconded. Though I haven’t done it in a while, my local library has plenty of books available for temporary download. I can personally only attest to the fiction selection, but I think that non-fiction books are also often available. If you prefer your books in physical form–which I usually do–libraries will often let you reserve them. I’m fifth in line for a physical copy of Sid Meier’s Memoirs! at the moment and David Macaulay’s Motel of the Mysteries should be available for me to pickup any day now. I’ve gotten programming books from the library in this way before too. Your local library system may not have the book you want, but you might be able to get it anyway through inter-library loan. Libraries are indeed great.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I think I actually did pick up Masters of Doom from the local library. The book of Lenses I have a copy of, mostly so I can scribble notes in it. Not that I don’t scribble notes elsewhere

  19. Steve C says:

    Regarding scale, Warframe had that exact problem. All the scales were really funky. There would be couches really far away from coffee tables etc. Players teased the developers about it for years. When they finally put in the race that built everything they gave them a two meter long arm. Just one arm though. The other arm was shorter. And they threw in some lore to explain it all away.

    I loved this solution to the problem. So did lots of other people based on the memes.

  20. Alex says:

    This blurriness should be 100% blamed on my camera and not at all blamed on my ancient hands and nervous system for being unable to hold the camera still.

    Your camera probably compensates for the lower light level by automatically keeping the shutter open for longer to let in more light, which means any otherwise imperceptible movements of the camera will be exaggerated by the longer exposure.

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