Diecast #331: Dyson Sphere Program, Per Aspera, Huniepop 2

By Shamus Posted Monday Feb 1, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 102 comments

Note that in a couple of weeks, Paul is going to be away. I don’t know if I’ll get a replacement host or if I’ll skip the show. We’ll see. In the meantime, enjoy Paul getting once again angry / incredulous at a game.



Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.
Diecast331


Link (YouTube)

Show notes:

00:00 You must use a new password!

Minimum security. Maximum inconvenience.

05:42 Minecraft

I’m playing again. Minecraft is my comfort food for when I’m feeling down.

09:23 Dyson Sphere Program


Link (YouTube)

18:31 Per Aspera (no kidding)

Paul is eager to find out if we can discover IRON on Mars!


Link (YouTube)

41:24 Mailbag: Cadillacs and Dinosaurs

Dear Diecast,

You seem to like discussing contemporary topics, so here’s one for you: Have you heard of an old 2d side scrolling, beat-em-up game by Capcom, called Cadillacs and Dinosaurs? It was all the rage in certain arcades back in the 90s, and is still a blast to play today, owing to a very sweet soundtrack, and a fluid combat system. How about a 20-year old fighting game called Oni, made by Bungie West? Also a fluid-feeling combat system, with an excellent soundtrack/voice acting, and some interesting story ideas.

I’m not much of a fighting fan, and would find the complexities of
moves, counter-moves and whatnot in say, Mortal Kombat 11,
off-putting, but I keep wondering sometimes where to find fighting
games like the above, easy to learn, hard to master, and very
enjoyable to try out without a wealth of genre knowledge needed.

Thank you,
Galad

48:35 Mailbag: Anime

Dear Diecast

Rebrowsing the site, I noticed Shamus talked a lot about anime almost two decades ago (time sure flies by at lightspeed) but almost nothing about it during the 2010s. I’m interested in Shamus and Paul’s thoughts on the medium and if they’ve seen any anime in the present day.

I’m also curious in knowing if Shamus has seen Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, considering how he made multiple posts about how he enjoyed the original 2003 series but thought it was padded and stretched out by the end which I feel FMAB addressed by being a more coherent and tighter series with a clear beginning, middle, and end because it adapted the entire manga whereas the original 2003 series had to make up original storylines because the source material was far from over when it was still being produced.

-Poopyhead from the Great Beyond

57:19 Mailbag: Huniepop 2

Dear diecast,

I remember Shamus being very fond of Huniepop, I just saw that huniepop 2’s release date is announced on the 8th of febuari, so i wondered if Shamus has already freed his schedule.

With kind regards,
chris

 


From The Archives:
 

102 thoughts on “Diecast #331: Dyson Sphere Program, Per Aspera, Huniepop 2

  1. MerryWeathers says:

    I’m playing again. Minecraft is my comfort food for when I’m feeling down.

    Ah, a game with so much untapped potential being held down by the game’s developer, who are more content to just dripfeed new content that are more of novelty features than anything that actually expands or improves on the core gameplay loop.

    1. Vertette says:

      That’s what mods are for!

    2. Mokap says:

      It’s such a shame to see Microsoft turn Minecraft from an incredible minimalist masterpiece of a game that’s nigh-on perfect into a bloated mess full of unnecessary bullshit (like the god damn phantom enemies that might be the worst possible enemy idea you could ever conceive of in a game about exploration).

  2. Joe says:

    What does Mars have other than iron? Canals, of course. Pyramids, faces, women in jeweled bikinis, people with four arms and green skin, ice warriors, Egyptian gods, Bobbie Draper.

    I think the toy line is Dino Riders. I saw them for sale, thought they looked cool. But never quite enough to make me buy any.

  3. bobbert says:

    What is the secret to having ‘fun’ in Minecraft? I have tried it few times, but it has never sucked me in.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Depends on what you’re into. Could pop into creative mode and build a castle, play survival and make a safe settlement to defend from monsters, install some mods and make huge factories that build anything you can dream of, install some other mods and try to survive on a block of dirt in the sky,…

      Mind you I myself am having fun trying to build an interesting modpack for Minetest based on Minecraft mods I like, but as they say ????.

    2. Philadelphus says:

      For me, it’s having a friend to play with. I enjoyed it on my own for a month or two, but if a friend of mine hadn’t picked it up around then to play multiplayer I’d probably not have stuck with it for more than a year or two. Playing with him, it’s probably the game I have the most hours in of any game, spread over the past ~10 years. It helps that we have rather different play styles, as I tend to enjoy building and ‘farming’ (producing renewable resources passively), while he enjoys exploring and mining. We complement each other pretty well that way, as he’s often out collecting resources I turn around and put into building up a base for both our use.

    3. beleester says:

      Come up with a project. You can get yourself secure pretty quickly, if you’re willing to live in a dirt hut, but wouldn’t it be nicer if you could live in a *castle?* With a big wall and lots of torches to keep out the monsters, and a big farm so you don’t have to go hunting, and automatic harvesting with redstone and pistons? At the very least, it’ll give you something to do with all that cobblestone you’re mining.

      If you don’t have something big to work on, then it ends up as just a rather janky adventure game, although exploring the world to see all the different biomes can still give a decent amount of fun.

      Also, this is a game where you need to read the wiki – the game doesn’t explain most of its systems at all, like what you can craft with various items, how to access the Nether, etc.

    4. Rariow says:

      I’m the same way. I’ve never been able to have fun in Minecraft, or any other game that’s that open ended. Games that throw you in a world and ask you to go find your own fun are way too formless for me, even if I set a project for myself it never feels like I’m really accomplishing anything. I really need a sense of progression, or at the very least some sort of acknowledgement by the game itself that I’ve accomplished something. I’ve built cool stuff in Minecraft, but then I just look at it and feel empty because it’s not doing anything of real use for me – it’s not like my pixel art Link is giving me 3 to dig speed or something. I like games with very loose goals like Stardew Valley, but they at least reward you with the ability to do new things when you accumulate enough money and materials (plus Stardew has story elements with your relationships with villagers, and it rates your progress after 2 years).

      I don’t think that me being unable to enjoy Minecraft and other “true sandbox” games of that sort is some sort of failure of the game, I just think it’s a matter of personal taste.

      1. bobbert says:

        I really enjoyed Stardew for a while, then my wife gave me a baby. I was really happy and at first, then I realize she never held or even talked about him. I quit in a huff.

      2. evilmrhenry says:

        There are quest-based modpacks that seem like they would add a bit more direction to the experience. Unfortunately, most of them are made for people who already understand Minecraft and want a challenge, so I’m not sure I could recommend any of them.

    5. John says:

      Have a kid. I doubt I’d ever have tried Minecraft if my daughter hadn’t announced one day that she was going to teach me to play it. She’s at the age now where voluntarily spending time with me is not one of her priorities, so I jumped at the chance. It turns out that Minecraft is pretty okay, so lucky me. Also, my daughter has apparently memorized every Minecraft crafting recipe ever, even ones that I know she’s never used in-game.

      Or, if having a kid simply isn’t practical, then I think that Beleester nailed it when he said “Come up with a project.” For me, the project was first constructing the Ominous Tower of Dad and then, when that was done, constructing a carefully graded and landscaped path and tunnel system leading to something called a Ruined Portal. I’m between projects now, which has diminished my enthusiasm for the game. I got a domestic architecture book for Christmas, so if I ever get back into the game I might try building a house in one of the styles shown in the book. My present polished-granite lined two-story cliff-dwelling is more than adequate for my actual needs, but a nice, big house in, say, the Georgian style would be pretty neat.

    6. Melfina the Blue says:

      For me (never got sucked into Minecraft, but this is what hooked me in other games) it’s the stories I come up with. Whether it’s one person’s survival (and probable horrible death as I am really bad at that kind of game) against the elements, or that well-known tale about finding out what’s over the next hill, those are what’s going to keep me coming back, not just building stuff. If I want to make stuff, I have yarn and needles in RL and I end up with warm stuff I can wrap around me.

      So stories. Rich environments (and pretty ones) help for that, I’m far more inclined to wander around the next bend if I think I might find an Ayelid ruin or just a really gorgeous vista…

  4. tmtvl says:

    Yes, Oni is the best Bungie game, and one of my favourite action games.

  5. Liessa says:

    Here’s a Let’s Play of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs by slowbeef. I do vaguely remember seeing it in arcades in the 90s, but had forgotten about it until I saw that video.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      The theme of the game is great – mad scientists, people mutating into dinosaurs, and a plucky band of muscle-car muscle-men who need to beat up everyone. That’s some B-movie sci-fi right there! The gameplay on the other hand…is exactly the same as every single other brawler of the time. Maybe I’m just a scrub who can’t do fighting-game combos, but these games never seemed to have anything deep enough to keep me engaged past the first screen. Golden Axe at least had magic, dinosaur mounts, and a dwarf-kicking minigame! :)

      1. John says:

        Side-scrolling brawlers like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, and even Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Simpsons games tend to have deliberately shallow gameplay designed to separate you from your quarters or arcade tokens as quickly as possible. In other words, you are not a scrub. I can’t speak to the genre’s more contemporary games, like the recently released Streets of Rage IV, but the real trick to these games, as I understand it, is less mastery of combos and invincibility frames and more not getting surrounded so that you’re not getting punched in the back all the time.

        1. Joshua says:

          I got the Capcom Beat-Em-Up Bundle for my Switch a couple of years ago,and I think that is exactly the reason for their decline. Once you have unlimited continues, you find out that the games tend to be really shallow and the difficulty is based around ramping up enough until you have to put more quarters in.

          I’m sure there are people out there that have mastered these games well enough to do it on a single continue, but I would think you’d get more enjoyment out mastering games with more interesting gameplay.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Yeah, I had a similar experience with Double Dragon on the Nintendo. I spent a maybe a year or so as a child, never making it further than Stage 3 and eventually gave up; a decade later I was experimenting with emulators (and cheats), so decided to see what the later bits of the game actually featured. What had I missed out on?
            Not much, was the answer. In some ways games are a lot better than they used to be.

          2. AncientSpark says:

            A lot of it is learning AI abuse and enemy pattern recognition. There are usually a few optimizations you learn for your own character (what is the best damaging setups, what is the use of certain moves in what situations, etc.), but a lot of it is more about counter strategies in a set progression, and getting really good at optimizing a few tools at once.

            Which, to be fair, can be somewhat deep and/or amusing (sometimes a mix of both), but it’s the kind of depth that you won’t see intuitively in your first few playthroughs, nor is it depth that the developers probably intended. There’s basically no on-ramp to find that because of it.

          3. Asdasd says:

            Area management can be a fun part of these games. River City Ransom did it well, with the nascent emergent shenanigans of throwing weapons and tires (and people!) around and taking advantage of raised terrain. But that game also had a lot of other interesting things going on, like a game economy, character progression, a proto-open world, enemy reactivity (BARF!), hidden side-quests and bosses…

            I wish there were more beat em ups with a little bit more imagination like that. I guess I don’t mind the minute to minute fighting being a little shallow – I don’t actually want to spend hours labbing combos and internalising frame data in a single player game – but why not use it as something you can build around?

        2. RFS-81 says:

          I think the whole Streets of Rage is good, except I don’t really know 3. They were straight to console, so they didn’t have to be designed for munching quarters. Positioning is really the most important thing. That’s why I like throwing enemies so much.

          Streets of Rage 4 comes right out and tells you all about which moves have iframes on the What do all the buttons do screen, but it doesn’t have any complex combos either.

    2. Steve C says:

      I don’t remember anything about any games. I only remember the Cadillacs and Dinosaurs cartoon.

  6. Philadelphus says:

    Funnily enough, my bank just forced me to update my password today, even though it had the requisite upper-and-lower case letters, numeral, and symbol and hadn’t been compromised (that I know of, I guess). It was like 14 characters long already, so I don’t know how much more secure they want. Weirdly, I noticed while setting up the new one that they required less than 9 numerals this time. I’m just waiting for the inevitable:

    We noticed you haven’t changed your password in 3 days! We’d like to helpfully remind you that if you don’t change your password at least this frequently criminals and scammers will vacuum it from the dark web! Remember, your new password must use every letter in the English alphabet, both upper AND lower case, at least once, along with the numerals 0 through 9 and all the symbols on their associated keys, but remember you can’t put ANY letters or numerals in the order they come in because then people can guess it! To be extra safe, have you considered using some Greek, Hebrew, or Sanskrit letters? Ahahah, we jest, of course you can’t use non-ASCII symbols that would actually provide more entropy to your password without it needing to be 100 symbols long, that’s just silly. And remember don’t even think of writing this down anywhere or use any sort of password manager, that’s unsafe!

    I, uh, I may have some strong thoughts on password security.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I’m still waiting for us to all use these “second-factor” keys[1] as the primary factor. Like, people are very used to keeping their house and car keys safe, so these would be very easy to keep secure. Especially considering the things are so small and light. It’s pretty impractical to try and swim or lift weights with some rustable heavy keys dangling off of your arm, but you could totally make a waterproof arm-band to keep a USB-thing safe!

      [1] For example a Yubikey, but there’s other brands, and some open-source blueprints.

  7. bobbert says:

    Re: Iron on Mars

    While you can thermodynamically drive the back reaction of Iron oxidation with high temperature. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest you will need to go well over 5000F(good luck with that). Electrochemisty, like what is done with Aluminum, is probably a good deal more practical, but you will need a truly monstrous amount of electric power.

    How do you get your power in that game? Realistic I would imagine would be Uranium, which would pose it own issues – Quick! set up a Zirconium refining industry to make high neutron-transparency fuel rod casings. I guess they went for something more fantasy based like solar or unicorn farts.

    Sense you say it is a crappy game, part of me really wants it to be you bringing railroad cars full of ore, limestone, and coal to giant blast furnace. Bonus points for big clouds of black smoke. Double bonus points if the coal and limestone have visible fossils.

    In real steel making, impurities present in ~ppm quantities can have huge effects on the strength of a steel (I believe phosphorous is a common trouble maker) It is not uncommon to pay a substantial premium for very high purity ore to avoid or simplify expensive purification afterwards. Then again, the reverse – improving purification to be able to use more common cheaper ore is also practiced in real life.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      The power options in the game, in order of magnitude from least to greatest, are solar, wind (which is variable based on…something, I never figured it out and just stuck with solar on my second two runs), fission, geothermal, fusion. All of which after solar, by the way, require researching.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        Ah yes, harnessing the powerful winds ON MARS!

        1. kincajou says:

          Martian winds are actually a thing!
          The whole ecosystem of the plantet is really fascinating:
          https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/the-fact-and-fiction-of-martian-dust-storms

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            Oh yes, they exist, it’s just that a hundred times less atmosphere than Earth’s means your wind turbines are not going to generate much power.

            1. Kincajou says:

              That’s fair, i hadn’t thought of the atmospheric density!

            2. Philadelphus says:

              Actually, that’s another missed trick: part of your terraforming is increasing the atmospheric pressure from a few millibars up to Earth-like pressures (~1000 mbar). As far as I know, that doesn’t change the power output from wind generators at all (though to be fair I only used them in the one playthrough).

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                IIRC Surviving Mars actually does that, terraforming atmosphere improves the efficiency of your wind turbines and lowers the efficiency of your solar panels.

      2. bobbert says:

        So, we get the classic comedy of a huge power hungry smelter being run inexplicably off of a tiny solar panel.

        1. tmtvl says:

          Don’t you know that the sun is much more powerful on Mars than on Earth? (FTR, this is a joke)

          1. kincajou says:

            Well as the atmosphere is more rarefied, the solar radiation on mars will certainly contain more of the UV spectrum which means higher energy photons.

            So you’re not completley wrong

      3. kincajou says:

        Geothermal is the one that bugs me as the core of mars has gone cold… i’m not sure quite how much (if any) geothermal energy is reasonably beleived to be on mars…. honestly you’re better off going solar or wind (due to the lore constant winds and the more rarefied atmosphere which wil make your solar panels more efficient)

        1. bobbert says:

          Another problem with geo- err… well… martio-thermal power is that the heat is pulled out of the ground by ground-water, another thing mars is known for having in abundance.

    2. kincajou says:

      One could use some more interesting chemistry, if i recall correctly the thermite reactions allow to convert oxides back into metals and generate enough heat to be self sustaining.

      Additionally if you have the right catalysts, you don’t need quite that much energy… for that particular example see the history of iron smelting which is thought to date back to 1800 BCE. So pre-industrial civilisations were able to generte enough heat to smelt iron, the energy requirement shouldn’t be an issue for a spacefaring civ where you have access to large scale renewables, nuclear, etc…

  8. Christopher says:

    Shamus playing erotic dating sims for the gameplay is my favorite joke lmao

    1. Henson says:

      He reads it for the articles.

    2. The Nick says:

      “But what do they eat?”

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Candy G-strings, presumably.

      2. Syal says:

        Humorously enough, a solid portion of Huniepop is feeding the girls so they’ll keep talking to you, and they all have favorite foods. So “what do they eat” is a recurring mechanic.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          No wonder Shamus enjoyed it so much.

    3. Addie says:

      Having to reach a target score with a set number of moves, with a carefully-selected set of power-ups from your growing collection, and some RPG-style levelling-up mechanics actually makes it a lot more of a strategic puzzler than you would expect from a match-three game. Plus the tunes are bopping, the presentation is great, there’s secrets and unlocks to obtain, and the dialogue and characterisation is sufficiently snappy for the task at hand.

      It’s a good game! It’s just, you have to be careful about when you play it, since it’s also a soft-core dating sim.

      1. Daimbert says:

        I took a quick look at what the sequel is doing, and while Shamus kinda mocks the “date two women at once” idea for its sexual undertones, in line with the rest of the game they actually use that to add in some strategic gameplay. You have to balance time spent on each woman in the date, and obvious in line with the previous game they’ll like different things. Later on, each of them will gain “baggage”, which has impacts on what you can do. For example, one of them gains baggage that means that joy icons — which give you extra moves — instead take a move away from you. So a common strategy of matching those icons as soon as you can gets altered by having to ensure that you switch to the other woman before doing so, which has implications for Stamina and the like. If the other baggage is equally impacting, now strategy is even MORE important, and it’s even more important to think your moves through.

        I played and enjoyed the first but wasn’t all that interested in the second because I had thought the art style changed (it hasn’t really) and they took out the characters I liked which meant I’d have to find new favourites. But the changes to gameplay have made me more interested in it.

        Also, in terms of things that make it more than your typical soft-core sex game, the voice acting is really well done. There was at least one character that I just loved the voice for — Aika — which also led to her being one of my favourites.

    4. Higher Peanut says:

      I have a friend who actually watched Bible Black for the plot and not… the rest.

      1. Sillyus Saurus says:

        The music in that game is just something else. Beautiful, eerie, a little sad. It is a shame it has all of the screwing weighing it down.

        Also, you literally cannot get the good ending on your first playthrough. The pages in the book with ultimate spell are glued together unless you have a completed save on your machine. The best you can do instead is kill your lady after she has fallen to demonic possession and be imprisoned in a psych-hospital.

      2. Sillyus Saurus says:

        Here, I dredged up a link to the OST.

        Enjoy!

  9. bobbert says:

    Man… wow!

    That game has everything dumb

    Mars Zeppelins?

    Mars Robot Union Work Rules?

    Mars Endangered Species Act?

    Mars Zerglings?

    Where the romance side-quests any good?

  10. Echo Tango says:

    I’ve finally found real-life file-footage of Paul speaking with his older brother!

  11. Philadelphus says:

    Ah, Per Aspera, I picked it up in December, have played it through fully three times to get all three endings, and definitely agree with Paul on pretty much all those criticisms. It really feels like it needs…something. Though regarding recycling, I don’t know if Paul played on Hard, but on Normal (and Easy) you DO get back the materials you put into a building when you deconstruct it (whereas Hard says “you get less than you put in” or something like that), so it’s less problematic to remove buildings in that case, though it can definitely still be annoying. The game really feels like it wants you to build this huge planet-spanning base by adding campaign objectives around the planet and having resource nodes run out so you have to expand, but it’s really awkward to actually do so for all the reasons Paul points out and a few more.

    And regarding the story…hoo boy. It’s set sometime ~200 years in the future based on dates of fictional future mission remains you can find, and you’re playing supposedly the most advanced AI ever…yet when it comes to disputes about matters of fact, your character never thinks to do something as basic as take a video or record the threatening message played on the colony speakers (which later story bits confirm was actually heard by all the human colonists); no, every single dispute about what’s happening comes down to a case of “he-said, she-said” between mission command and your character. Now, minor spoilers, from a story perspective mission control is gaslighting you, but it still rubs me extraordinarily raw: your character gets treated as if “she” (feminine-voiced) is going crazy, and yet you never get the chance to throw some cold hard facts back in mission control’s smug face. You don’t think the “Children of Carmine” who broadcast that threatening message don’t exist? I’ve got 500 colonist right here who all heard it played on the colony’s speakers. But no, you can’t call up witnesses, in fact I think the number of conversations in the game that happen between more than two people can be counted on one hand. And of course that doesn’t include the new base commander who’s mother just got killed in the second attack, who could back me up against mission control.

    Maybe this is the whole Details-First game I want vs. the Drama-First game the developers wanted; they wanted this deep, dramatic story with a shocking revelation near the end, but I’m sitting here the whole time going “Surely we could resolve a whole bunch of this mess if someone (let alone the most advanced AI ever created) just thought to stick a cell phone to a window and press record for five minutes.” In fact, mission control could still be gaslighting me (it’d actually be interesting to see how they try to explain away the evidence), just give me a chance to try to call them out for it. On my third and final playthrough I chose the “kick all the humans off Mars and rule it with a silicon fist” option, and it was so cathartic to finally get rid of all those deceitful, illogical jerks. I think I’m finally starting to understand Shamus’ frustration with games where the story never lets you take simple logical actions that would make eminent sense to do. So, yeah, I really wanted to like this game because it has an absolutely amazing map of Mars to play on, and the idea of terraforming Mars is low-hanging fruit as far as inspiration for a fun game goes, and it just…I can’t recommend it.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      Just had a thought, I think the game wants to be this sort of “sci-fi psychological drama”: you’re a new AI, and weird things start happening on Mars. Are you maybe going crazy? Mission control is deliberately gaslighting you along the way. However, the game has two problems: the mechanics leave you no doubt about what’s happening, so you’re never really wondering if you’re going mad. And given the advanced setting, you should be able to confirm your point of view with objective evidence, so you’re just left wondering why you can’t point out all the evidence on your side (and again, even if you somehow can’t trust your sensors you’re going to have hundreds or even thousands of colonists on-planet who could vouch for you). It’s frustrating because there’s a core of a good game there, it’s just being pulled in too many directions and its theme is at odds with its setting.

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      Thanks for the additional perspective!
      I did play on Normal, but you still don’t get back the materials for the robots and drones that wear out, and all the pieces you have to replace for maintenance add up quickly. Plus you have to keep feeding water into the habs, as if they don’t have closed-system life support.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Oh, right, I see what you mean about workers and drones. And yes, the water situation is ridiculous — I don’t know how far you’ve gotten with the terraforming, but you can have an ocean covering half of Mars, but is there a desalination plant in the game’s tech tree? Something to distill moisture in the slowly-thickening-to-human-sustainability Martian atmosphere? Nope, globe-spanning ocean and you’re still forced to continually pull water out of the ground.

        Which reminds me, colonists in general are weird. The game tries to impress upon you that “you must ensure they have adequate food and water!’, but colony domes function just like any other building: you put in the ingredients (food and water) and get out the product (research points). Instead of dying horribly if they don’t get food or water (and the game’s logistics make it nearly impossible to keep them constantly supplied), they just won’t give you research and will eventually head back to Earth. On the one hand I’m glad the game doesn’t punish you by killing off colonists due to its own logistical deficiencies, but on the other hand…maybe that’s a sign that the core game play needs some tweaking?

        And I just remembered the Oxygen Trap stage of terraforming, where your objective is to start converting the (now increased to 300 mbar) carbon dioxide atmosphere into oxygen. Doing so using passive methods like spreading lichen and algae across the surface/oceans, however, is a trap, because they won’t stop when the oxygen fraction reaches 22% like on Earth. No, those plants you’ve released and cannot recover or kill off will happily keep turning every molecule of CO2 in your atmosphere into oxygen, which leads to — as you would expect — horrific fires breaking out in your buildings regularly due to the oxygen-rich environment. There are two different technologies for adding nitrogen to the atmosphere, but both are in the final tier of the tech tree, neither are likely to have been researched at this point in time, and they both take a long time to research and aren’t especially fast methods. So if you don’t know about them ahead of time, and are just blindly following the game’s terraforming instructions because they’ve worked out so far, you’re going to have a massive oxygen catastrophe on your hands for many Martian years as you struggle to get enough nitrogen into the atmosphere to bring the oxygen fraction back down below 30%.

  12. John says:

    I like animation and by extension anime quite a lot, but I’ve found that it’s best to engage with anime selectively. Sturgeon’s Law applies to anime as it does to most things. A lot of anime is just cheap shlock. I have a few rules of thumb that have served me well. Rule Number 1: Beware the teenage protagonist. Rule Number 2: Beware the high school show. Rule Number 3: Movies tend to be less formulaic and less childish than TV shows. Note that these are rules of thumb rather than hard-and-fast laws, because there are, inevitably, exceptions. Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu, for example, is a favorite of mine, but it’s technically a high school show with a teenage protagonist.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Yeah there’s quite a few shows and movies, both of the western and eastern kind, that I’ve just stopped watchign very quickly, because of all the badness. Reviews are your friend! :)

    2. Geebs says:

      Sturgeon’s Law of Anime: 90% of everything is filler.

    3. Rack says:

      I’d recommend Kaiji ultimate survivor in the strongest possible terms. Doesn’t break any of your rules and at the very least the first season is superb. The second season unfortunately starts to get pacing problems but is still worth watching.

    4. Fizban says:

      Ironically, as much teenage trash as there is, I “beware the adult protagonist” more often. ‘Cause they’re usually trying waaay too hard for my taste. But then, a ton of what some people consider definitive Qualty Anime, I consider pretentious and or meh.

      Really the best rule is to find someone who watches a lot of anime, and train them to identify stuff you like. There’s a flood of isekai stuff nearly every season, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad- you just need someone who watches enough of them to identify what one might actually like.

      This season, let’s see. . . There’s Wonder Egg Priority for people who like the sort of “surreal life-lessons/fucked up dramadrama/who the fuck knows I barely watch these” Ikuhara stuff. Quintissential Quintuplets was a fine teenage romcom that’s in its second and presumably final? season (which I want to watch but liked enough that I’m skittish about actually watching it now, heh)- though Horimiya is supposed to be the Quality (teenage) romance this season. Log Horizon was the “trapped in an MMO” darling of a ton of the people who hated Sword Art Online and is now on season 3, but I find myself really not caring about the increasingly complex web of political intrigue and occasional cartoon villains it’s weaving. The Promised Neverland is in a second season, bunch of small children trying to survive a post-apocalypse where humans are farmed by demons, supposed to be really good dark drama even if I’m not interested.

      But of course, that’s just skimming off the top of the current season.

      1. John says:

        Edgy is very much not my thing, but I’d take pretentious or “meh” over paint-by-numbers high-school harem fanservice show any day of the week.

      2. Retsam says:

        This season of anime is ridiculously stacked. (I wonder if this is because a bunch of 2020 stuff got delayed) I usually only pick up one or two anime per season, but I’m watching 6 shows from this season, and there’s still a few others that I probably would watch, if not for… *gestures vaguely at everything*. Of the ones you mentioned, I’m watching Wonder Egg Priory, Horimiya, and QQ.

        And two most popular shows from recent years are airing, between Re:Zero (though I have a love/hate relationship with it, so I’ve mostly dropped it) and Attack on Titan, which has gone from the “hype action show with a stereotypically annoying protagonist” to a gripping drama that’s legitimately one of the best fantasy stories I’ve experienced.

        I’m also watching the Higurashi sequel / reboot / it’s complicated, having not seen the original, which is one of a few classic horror anime. I’ve been enjoying it, there’s a lot of mystery to it, but the last episode I watched was… a lot. Like “I need to go watch something else, because I’m going to be scarred if I go to bed after watching that”, and I’m not the sort of person who has those reactions.

        So I started Back Arrow which looks straight out of the 90s, and has weird character designs and a weird sense of humor, but has a pretty stacked writer/director combo (from Gurren Laggan/Code Geass respectively), so I’m giving it a shot.

        And there’s about a half-dozen other shows that would be “big deals” if they weren’t competing against such a stacked lineup. Beastars, Cells @ Work, Log Horizon, Mushoku Tensei (actually good isekai, I hear), Promised Neverland, etc, etc.

        1. Fizban says:

          Re:Zero I’ve settled into a comfortable “yeah, okay then, if you think it was emotional, sure.” It’s consistent in what it thinks works, so even if it doesn’t, I can still watch the rest of it. Attack on Titan I basically dropped ages ago, and having heard where it’s gone (I always thought it had foreshadowed a very sci-fi origin for the stuff), I’m not that interested in catching back up. I’m reading episode reviews of the new Higurashi, because I loved the original by the end, but wanted to know if the “reboot” would be decent and now want to see where they’re going with it first- yeah. Mushoku Tensei is supposedly good, but you have to get bast a garbage-fire protagonist first, and I’ve been dodging those for a while (I was going to check it out just to see for myself, but effort).

    5. Retsam says:

      Nowadays, I find it’s less high school/teenagers that gets the auto-pass, but isekais and “I can’t believe it’s not hentai”. I feel the real glut of “high school anime” is a slightly older phenomenon (more the “Haruhi Suzumiya”-knockoff era) , and a lot of “high school anime” that airs nowadays is actually really good.

      Maybe this is because I just finished showing my wife A Place further than the Universe, earlier tonight – which is one of my favorite shows from recent year. But I can think of a lot more good recent high school anime (Kaguya-sama, Horimiya, Aobuta) than I can bad ones.

  13. Lino says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: frustrated Paul is one of my favourite things in this site :D

    1. eaglewingz says:

      My sympathetic rage is going to be burning all day just from his pronunciation of two words : “ON MARS !!”

  14. Thomas says:

    The story in Frostpunk worked surprisingly well for a building game. It sounds from Paul’s description like Per Aspera was trying to copy Frostpunk heavily and didn’t understand what it was copying.

  15. tmtvl says:

    It would be cool to melt polar ice with nukes.

    Paul Spooner, 2021.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Sadly, they had already melted by the time I got access to the launch codes.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        “Curse yooouu, global warming!” *shakes fist in air*

  16. Yerushalmi says:

    Many of my passwords are now expressions of frustration towards the password requirement systems. For example, one password (which I recently changed) used to be “Fuck you and the password requirements you rode in on!” with a 1 tacked on to the end to fulfill the aforementioned password requirements.

    That style of password selection tends to make them easy to remember, and difficult for others to guess.

  17. Chad Miller says:

    Re Microsoft and passwords: Some months ago Microsoft logged me out of my accounts for some unstated reason (I assume some kind of security breach? But really they never told me so I have no idea). The next time I try to log in I’m told I need to change my password. “OK, fine” I say and change my password. Then I log in with that password to do what I was originally logging in to do. I’m then told…there was a recent issue and I need to change my password. To something other than the password I had literally just changed it to. So when I thought I was changing my password, I was really choosing a one-time temporary password to change my password.

    1. Lino says:

      Yo dawg, I heard you love changing passwords! So I hooked you up with a Random Password Changer! Now you can change yo password while changing yo password, so you can change
      your password while you wait for your password to change!

  18. Gautsu says:

    I still hold Def Jam 2: Fight for New York the bench mark of fighting games easy to get into with plenty of depth

  19. Narkis says:

    Microsoft password management is indeed infuriating. I ran into the exact same issue as Paul a few months ago but luckily I found a work-around in a random forum post: Microsoft stores only the 5 latest passwords you’ve used. So if you change your password five times in rapid succession they’ll forget the oldest one and allow you to use the password you wanted once again.

    1. bobbert says:

      I guess what they say in the Army is true.

      If it is stupid and it works…

  20. RamblePak64 says:

    I must be psychically connected to… erm… “Poopyhead from the Great Beyond”… because I, too, had recently scrolled through old blog posts and noticed the anime and love of Full Metal Alchemist. I pondered sending an e-mail asking similar questions.

    I think there’s something more than recognizing the tropes in terms of anime as a medium (or Japanese media as a whole, since some of the rules also apply to both their games and even their live-action). I think it’s also that the past two decades have seen the transformation of Otaku culture in a way that is very different than it had been in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s (where the 80’s in particular were filled with a lot of fresh new sci-fi ideas that were inspired both by domestic entertainment and what was coming out of Hollywood). However, after the economic bubble burst in the early 90’s, consumerism began to slowly diminish throughout the country… except for Otaku, who gradually become more and more consumer-driven. As such, there ends up being a lot of catering to Otaku, which leads to a whole lot of tropes and concepts being chased that weren’t as frequent before.

    It’s interesting when contrasted to the past two decades of American television, which have been incredibly influenced by shows like 24 and LOST at the turn of the millennium. Serialized stories rather than episodic procedurals, concluding episodes with crazy revelations and cliffhangers, and so-on. Then there’s what happened with HBO television and shows like The Sopranos. Now you get “prestige television”, and it seems one of the greatest hallmarks of that is “everyone’s a jerk”.

    We’re currently in the middle of what could be another shift in culture as well. Companies like Crunchyroll and Netflix are starting to wave around their big American money bags in Japan and get involved with their committees (oh yeah, committees, that’s a whole other mess regarding how anime is made that’s similar-but-different from American television). There’s a lot of fear about what this could mean, currently, as one of the reasons people who enjoy anime watch it are because it’s different. I was hyped for the Dragon’s Dogma anime because I already liked the game and would just love some good, solid, fantasy-based anime like the old Record of Lodoss War OVA. Unfortunately, it’s an insanely nihilistic show that features random boobs early on and a variety of greatly detailed gore that is atypical for the medium’s standard. Why is this? Is it potentially related to the alleged desire by Netflix to make the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender “more mature”? Are they trying to make everything Game of Thrones? I dunno. It’s too early to say, really.

    Regardless, I’d say a lot of the best minds of Japanese entertainment actually have moved to video games. That’s where you’re seeing a lot of the most inventive and interesting narratives take place. Even so, that doesn’t mean there aren’t good anime releasing still. However, like you, I find myself more interested in playing games these days. I barely watch any films or anime or television these days because I’d rather just play a game most of the time. Perhaps part of it is because I don’t often watch things with others. The last thing I watched was My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, a show that, on the surface, looks like everything I’m sick of from anime. Instead, it was surprisingly intelligent and really well done. It’s a show I definitely plan to watch again.

    Which, I think, is one of the things that has prevented me from watching much new anime. There are so few ideas that seem interesting beyond a… I dunno, social-media webcomic fan-fiction way? The “I got sucked into a video game world” is slowly beginning to fade, but it’s being replaced by things like “It turns out my sister is a Dryder that suffers arachnaphobia” or “My daughter is a allergic to the sun so I have to keep her inside all the time”. Like… remember when they made shows like Patlabor? Pepperidge Farm remembers, but the Japanese clearly don’t. But, as I said, that’s where video games come in, because PlatinumGames also remembers and decided to make Astral Chain (which is clearly inspired by a lot of old 80’s and 90’s anime, including Evangelion, though sadly the narrative is nowhere near as good).

    Oh, there’s also the matter of most anime being targeted towards shounen, which means young boys, which basically means “middle-school aged”. Your next best bet is shoujo. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a seinen or josei somewhere in there (grown men and women, respectively), but good luck.

    I’d go into further discussion on hands-on-boobs shenanigans and the very different notion of taboo than the States (or rather, how the States is actually far more inconsistent with what is and isn’t okay than Japan), but this is long enough as it is. Needless to say, I feel like they occasionally throw that crap in there early on in order to get the attention of the common denominator. See: Parasyte, a pretty darn decent show with a completely unnecessary boob grab in the opening five minutes that just feels so madly out of place.

    1. Fizban says:

      I think there’s something more than recognizing the tropes in terms of anime as a medium (or Japanese media as a whole, since some of the rules also apply to both their games and even their live-action). I think it’s also that the past two decades have seen the transformation of Otaku culture in a way that is very different than it had been in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s

      I don’t remember the exact name, I think it was Line? Anyway, the reason light novels all sound like fanfic trash even though they’re technically original works, is because most of them are written on a website that functions like a fanfic website. Literally a central place where people congregate around and chase trends and reference each other and pander to the internet.

      And then, because these light novels get so popular (and have already been written, by amateurs, and so are dirt cheap if they cost anything), the anime committees pick out the ones that have the right combination of popularity and presumed sale-ability for adaptation. And then if some of those more current ones go well, they go back and do whichever one kicked off the trend, which will be longer and more well (perhaps even disgustingly well) funded.

      Of course, Original anime are also a trap, because a lot of the time people writing that seem to be basically going full edgelord against some trend (like actual happy endings) that they’ve decided is bad, coupled with twist-a-week and/or cliffhangers as good tv, and with around 1/3 to 1/2 of the show not even actually planned.

      The best stuff tends to be adaptations of solid original works, usually novels or manga (which can include some things categorized as “light novels”, which seems to initially have been a term more like “paperback”), but also sometimes games*, and originals from the big studios and/or big name writers or directors, who know what they’re doing and have a plan. Of course, the only way to find out if they *actually* had a plan is to watch the thing and see if it’s actually any good.

      *Visual novels being the obvious one, though they vary plenty themselves and usually have a heavy romance component. But Utawarerumono is some sort of strategy rpg hybrid between its dating sim elements, Stein’s Gate tends to be well-recieved despite having been gasp, a VN (and many other timey wimey twisty worldy things get done in VNs), and even the obvious cash-graph smartphone game adaptations often have as little to do with the game as the game has to do with itself- if you can’t even tell it’s a shitty game adaptation, then it must be standing or failing on its own merits.

      1. RamblePak64 says:

        I’ve heard something similar to that. I don’t think it’s LINE, as that’s supposedly a sort of Twitter-like application, but I definitely heard that there’s a fan-fiction.net equivalent over there where a lot of these start out. I’ve also heard that a lot of editors for these light novels end up having to do a lot of rewriting in order to make the stories somewhat readable. I remember, after having read a bunch of Tad Williams, Heinlein, Alfred Bester, and other big fantasy and sci-fi authors, going back to reading the sixth Harry Potter book and thinking “Man, Rowling’s got some basic prose going on…” I realized she wasn’t a good writer, but a good story-teller. But man, nothing could have prepared me for trying to read an excerpt from the Grimgar light novel. I couldn’t even stand finishing that.

        Part of this goes into old-man curmudgeon thoughts and questions, though. As a fan of heavy metal, I myself feel like the majority of the genre is just treading water and on “repeat”, as songs are being written to sound like a specific (sub)genre rather than making music, but with certain genres as inspiration. The genre started by taking influence from the blues and jazz and experimenting with distortion and other types of sound and emotional resonance. Now, it feels like everyone’s just another Greta Van Fleet: a throwback at best, an imitation at most. But what if we look at a game like, say, Nier: Automata? For starters, we see that Yoko Taro is deeply familiar with different philosophers. We also see that, as “anime” and pandering as female androids dressed as dolls seems to be, it and 9S’s outfits are thematically representative of their role as androids, imitations of humanity, just as the opposing robots look much like toys with vaguely human features. That the former behave more like humans lends to their appearance being closer, while the latter looking far more artificial lends to their “figuring out” what it means to be human.

        Actually smart stuff that likely comes from deeper study and influence of art that came before!

        But with a lot of these Light Novels, it feels like the only inspiration are anime and video games from the past decade, with no effort to find influence from anything that inspired those creations.

        This could just be me being old, of course. It’s not like you can’t find this kind of stuff in the 90’s that came and was forgotten. But it’s… well, it seems to be a universal issue, I suppose.

        Anyway, I’ve digressed. Point is, I don’t even know what I’d try to watch these days, and might be tempted to just rewatch something I already know I like.

        1. Fizban says:

          *Racks brain*. . . right, LINE is the messaging app.

          Part of the problem with light novels will also be the translation- if they’re bad to begin with, some are going to get done by translators effectively being editors and localizers themselves and improving it, and some will not. I also read fan-translations of SAO and Tokyo Ravens as the later books came out, and the funny thing is that while having a bit of Japanese experience (a few terms of the class and lots of subtitled anime) makes it much easier to read a stilted literal translation, I wouldn’t be surprised if smoothing out the translation (and thus loosing that extra layer of meaning) would make it worse.

          Anyway, if you’re old then I must be old. I failed at re-reading the original Harry Potter, and instead ended up bailing back out to more potter fanfic (with plenty of details/consistency-first authors). I have approximately zero breadth of music cred, yet I find plenty of music feeling derivative. And I too wouldn’t mind some more stuff from outside the ouroborous (I picked up Nier: Automata almost immediately after hearing the good things, but then realized it was full of Denuvo so I still haven’t played it on principle).

          As for what to watch- well the recommendation if you feel burnt out is usually to take a break, then eventually re-watch something you love to remind you why you liked it, then you can try to find something new you’ll like.

    2. Syal says:

      Unfortunately, it’s an insanely nihilistic show that features random boobs early on and a variety of greatly detailed gore that is atypical for the medium’s standard.

      Netflix is really big on reminding people it’s not subject to FCC broadcasting restrictions. They put dumb amounts of gore and nudity in lots of their stuff. Altered Carbon had it, Castlevania had it, Orange is the New Black had it, their version of Death Note had it. Baki was so gory it ended up really funny.

      1. MrPyro says:

        To be fair, I’ve read the Altered Carbon book series and on this front, the series was true to the source material.

      2. RamblePak64 says:

        I was under the impression Baki was one of those shows already being produced in/for Japan that Netflix simply purchased exclusive distribution rights to.

        But, yes, a lot of their shows have that stuff in there, and it’s honestly getting pretty tiring. In hindsight, I really wish Amazon Prime had done a better job handling anime originals. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is often ridiculed as being “Attack on Snowpiercer”, but I enjoyed it more than Attack on Titan. It was grisly enough for the subject matter, but never got over-the-top like it could have (and Netflix’s decision to split the movie up into three or four episodes was odd). The Great Passage was a nice little anime whose plot was about the work it takes to make a new edition of a dictionary, yet was a nice little tale about life. Land of the Lustrous was an incredibly well directed adaptation of the manga that I really wish would get a season two, but that studio is now making Beastars for Netflix… and from what I hear, also has some of that adult content in it that I’m just not interested in.

        I don’t think Amazon has bothered trying to license new exclusive anime since then.

  21. Dreadjaws says:

    Here to point out that Cadillacs and Dinosaurs is not a “creative” game. They simply adapted an existent comic book of the same title and turned it into a Final Fight clone. Fun, sure, but all of those things you’re praising didn’t originate with the game (well, save for the music, of course).

  22. Grimwear says:

    I used to watch anime but there’s just so much wasted time. I moved over to manga because it’s just faster to consume. The amount that gets covered in a 22 minute episode I can read in around 5 minutes. I just don’t get the enjoyment out of it. To be fair I have this problem with regular tv shows as well. I got to episode 4 of The Witcher, episode 3 of The Mandalorian, episode 4 of The Queen’s Gambit. I’m currently watching The Expanse and have nearly finished season 2 but prior to that the last tv how I finished was the 5 part Chernobyl series.

  23. David says:

    I’ve been playing Dyson Sphere Project, and I think it’s great. I haven’t actually played Factorio myself, so I don’t have the problem that Shamus does, but other people I know or have read online who have played both also seem to like it. I do agree about the translation issues, and there are some quality of life and other important features that they are still implementing, but something really important that you may not have noticed as early as you stopped is how well optimized the game is already. Even in the late game where you can be standing in the middle of a factory planet looking up at the sun as thousands of solar sails fly around and your dyson sphere is being constructed all in real time, and the only time the game has any hitching is very briefly when it autosaves. Even more surprising, apparently the team creating this game is only 5 people. Also, if you want to see how awesome things get (at least visually), on r/Dyson_Sphere_Program there’s a screenshot competition that’s open for a few more weeks.

    1. TFrengler says:

      I’ve been playing a fair bit as well, though still in the early game. I’m a big Factorio fan, though not very good at the game. I touch base with it a few times a year, get a bit further than usual, and then stop because I can’t figure out the proper setup/ratios for the next phase. Even after 7 years (jeez, I bought it back in 2014…) I still haven’t seen any of the end-game stuff.

      With regards to Dyson Sphere Program I like it a lot. Simplified Factorio is probably an accurate description though still in the early game and haven’t left the first planet yet so take it with a grain of salt. Personally I like that it’s so far simpler. As much as I love Factorio I frequently find myself looking up ratios/setups online because I hate calculating those myself. For some reason Dyson Sphere Program feels more intuitive though I can’t quite put my finger on why.

      I like that you get away from gathering/crafting stuff by hand very early. Translations are dodgy indeed, and it’s quite jarring to hear the dodgy English being spoken out loud as well instead of just reading it. It’s a minor issue for me but definitely something I hope they get around to polishing up later.

      Like David said it can be quite a looker. Found myself zooming out a bit to get an overview of what I was doing and suddenly the sun burst up over the horizon or a gas giant looms in the sky. Very interested to see how easy it is to keep track of everything later on – particularly curious about how it feels once you have factories on multiple planets.

  24. RFS-81 says:

    My favorite wacky science fantasy beat-em-up is Battle Circuit. Sadly, I couldn’t find a good Let’s Play to link here. I found this one by an insanely good player, but he skips through all the cutscenes.

  25. Retsam says:

    I’ve been watching anime regularly for years, and I still find tons of novel stuff, personally. It’s possible that there’s just as much novelty in western TV and I’m just not looking for it. But I legitimately think that there’s just more “out there” anime premises, that go beyond the stereotypical anime plots that Shamus and Paul mentioned.

    If I were to try to compile a list of stuff I think Shamus (and maybe Paul) would like from the last couple decades of anime, if they were so inclined:

    * Planetes – a “twenty minutes into the future” hard sci fi, about “space trash collectors”, a department of misfits who clear debris to prevent Kessler syndrome – it’s a pretty interesting, and sometimes unflattering look at the near future of space exploration, tackling big issues like inequality, terrorism, and how hard it is to smoke a damn cigarette in space.

    * Steins;Gate – one of the best time travel shows I’ve seen: establishes rules for how time travel works, and builds a pretty impressive plot around them, while also being a pretty funny show with memorable characters. (Pretty steeped in otaku culture, for better or worse. The dub helps with that though)

    * Attack on Titan – feels like a shallow “thrill ride” of a show at first, but turns out to be a meticulously plotted fantasy story with lots of well thought-out twists and turns. It’s an “Abram-style Mystery Box” where there’s actually an answer to what’s in the box, and the answer turns out to be even more interesting than the box was from the outside.

    * Golden Kamuy – it’s like you taped an anthropology documentary over a cooking show, and then taped a Quentin Tarantino film set after Russo-Japanese War over that. Has the most gadawful CGI bear in the first episode (which is the only time I can remember that an individual bit of CGI has ever hit “so bad it’s good” territory for me). But the quality improves a lot as the show goes on.

    * Vinland Saga – pretty much just a Viking story that happens to be anime. Has one of the best antagonists that I’ve seen in year, and I actually appreciated its depiction of Christianity (mostly), which is not something I can say of almost any other anime.

    * Madoka Magica – everyone needs a cute 13 episode show from time to time.

    For me, the bane of modern anime is not that it’s predictable or cliche, but that so little of it actually gets finished. Too much of modern anime is just “a single season, blatantly unfinished adaption of some other medium”, that may get a S2 in 5 years if you’re lucky.

    I actually miss the days of FMA where the anime would come up with their own endings. They were hit and miss, but at least you got an ending.

    1. Fizban says:

      Yeah, if you want to learn how to cope with lack of closure, become an anime fan. I started around SAO, and it actually went up to what might as well be the end (though it fumbled quite a bit on the last season, and the author has continued writing, but it’s a fine place to end the show). Some other shows are trucking along, but unless you like shounen yelling, there really aren’t many that actually reach an ending.

      For anime original endings, there was The Misfit of Demon King Academy fairly recently. Overpowered protagonist done right, in my opinion, but still Very Anime. Starts strong but gets a bit weaker over time as you can tell they’re pushing the pace and as a long-running light novel it keeps bringing in new characters. But they drag it together into an ending that lines up with all the foreshadowing and works. I enjoyed enough of it and did not feel like it wasted my time.

  26. Mikko Lukkarinen says:

    Paul’s iron on Mars rant reminded me of the first few minutes of Netflix’s Io:
    – Let’s a build geothermal plant on Io to provide clean energy for Earth. Transmission losses, the logistics of getting a power plant from Earth to Io, all the maintenance issues, and Earth itself being geologically active too, fuck all that.
    – Let’s send humanity to live on a space station orbiting Io. No, we can’t build habitats on Earth, despite some people clearly doing just that in the film. We also can’t build space stations in Earth orbit, where we’d be close to shitloads of oxygen and water, if we just clean it, and plentiful sunlight. Noooo, we have to go all the way to cold, dark, toxic Io and get bathed in ionizing radiation from Jupiter’s radiation belts.
    – Oh and simple life on Earth is somehow adapting to use “ammonium as a main oxygen source”. How they’re getting oxygen out of a molecule with zero oxygen atoms is a mystery.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      Clearly, you fuse one of the hydrogen atoms in ammonia with the nitrogen atom to make an oxygen atom, leaving you with two excess hydrogen atoms that you can also react with the oxygen to make water if you need to! It’s genius! Life finds a way!

      But seriously, that is…wow.

      1. Mikko Lukkarinen says:

        Io is obviously a prequel to Godzilla. A fission-powered giant monster doesn’t seem that weird if there’s bacteria/insects/whatever doing nuclear fusion all over the place.

        1. Mikko Lukkarinen says:

          Heck, throw in a few lines about fusion and fission being opposites, Mother Nature returning everything to balance, living in harmony with Godzilla etc. and you’ve got 90% of the plot of a crappy Godzilla movie right there! Hollywood, here I come!

  27. Zeddy says:

    There’s legitimate reasons for preventing you from changing your password back to a recently used one!

    Imagine that instead of Paul changing his password back and forth, someone managed to reset and change his password to hack into it. After doing all the shady things possible by accessing his email, like getting into any accounts linked to that email, including, not unlikely, their password manager, the attacker could then change the password back to whatever the password used to be, and Paul would potentially be none the wiser.

    This restriction would at least let Paul know that something wrong has happened.

    Obviously Paul doesn’t have important things hooked up to his Microsoft account, but a lot of people do.

    1. Fizban says:

      So you have a persistent notification that tells the user their password was last changed at X date. Guilts people who think they should change their password, notifies everyone if their password is changed without them knowing.

  28. Rick says:

    Sounds like Paul got a lot more airtime in this ep, and it was fun to hear it get worked up Per Aspera.

  29. Zeta Kai says:

    Since nobody has said it yet, I will: Paul, you will be missed. You’re a great cohost, and a good sounding board for all of Shamus’ rants. Godspeed, good sir, and hopefully one day you’ll return, but I wish you good luck regardless.

    As for Shamus, you should definitely continue the podcast. It’s one of the best things on the blog, it keeps your finger on the pulse of the media-sphere, and it draws in people that your articles alone do not. I would recommend trying out new cohosts until you find one that fits your style. Good luck in your endeavors, as well, and I’d love to see more YouTube videos, as I feel like those were just taking off right before your move.

  30. thark says:

    It seems wierd to me to dismiss early DSP as “easy Factorio”; the complexity level of earlygame DSP is basically equivalent to earlygame Factorio? Like, your first science pack is circuits and one more thing, the second science pack is a bit more complex, the third is oil which means dealing with chemicals and byproducts, etc. The complexity scales up pretty equivalently.

    There are other reasons you might not like it, like interface niggles, and of course it doesn’t have logic circuits or blueprints or a crazy modding scene. (And if you play Bob’s mod or whatever maybe you don’t want to go back to playing something that is 90% standard Factorio.)

    For me, I enjoy Factorio but don’t get into the really crazy stuff so this was a way to get 90% the same game but enough small differences to be fresh again, without making it crazy complicated the way mods do.

  31. DeadlyDark says:

    Finally got to listen to this episode.

    As for anime, I do agree that it tend to be formulaic. Actually, I haven’t watch it for a ten years or so (and the only anime I really liked, was Ergo Proxy), until few years ago I watched Re:Zero. The reason for this was stupid – they were showing this blue haired girl everywhere, so it finally got me curious. I expected to cringe this season, see the usual tropes and confirm my thoughts about anime.

    Must say. First episodes seemed as something I expected, but the second half of the season was something what I can consider unformulaic. Plus I just felt that the author cared about the world-building – carefully setting up bits and such. And I’ll be honest, I never felt such care with, say, Game of Thrones, be it books or the show. And now I’m watching season 2, and I love it. It’s a well crafted story and probably my favorite show at the moment.

    After Re:Zero I watch some shows now, from time to time, but none is as good as Re:Zero in this regard (may be, Madoka Majika – thanks SFDebris!). But I think I enjoy the medium and tropes way more, than before. May be I just matured enough to appreciate them more

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