Diecast #334: Mailbag Binge

By Shamus Posted Monday Mar 1, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 80 comments

Paul is back, and this week we answer a record-breaking TEN emails. Ten is not a lot of number, but it’s still more than we’ve ever done before.

Also, the ending music is several decibels lower now. I’ve been getting complaints about this. I suspect that people have been using my droning voice and banal observations to lull themselves to sleep, and then the end music was startling them awake again.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

00:19 Moving

03:57 Winamp & Skins

Like I said on the show, I really loved Winamp back in the day. These days Foobar2000 is my player of choice. It’s probably a better overall player, but Winamp has a certain nostalgic quality that’s hard to quantify.

08:36 Mailbag: Whale Hunting

Dear Diecast,

I hope you’re all doing well! I just stumbled upon a 2015 GDC Talk – “Don’t Call Them Whales: F2P Spenders and Virtual Value“.

It shares some interesting opinions and data. I found a couple of interesting points, and I was wondering if you could discuss some (or all) of them:

1. At around 16:23, right after sharing some interesting data, she tries to equate whales’ spending to some traditional hobbies. I’m still reeling at the sheer wrong-ness of that comparison. What’s your take on that segment of the talk?

2. At around 37:02, she tries to make the case that game demand is inelastic (i.e. their price doesn’t affect demand), and Steam Sales are successful only because they’re a “special event” (and increase sales only thanks to the increase in advertising the game has gotten). I think this goes counter to some of your articles that argue against some AAA publishers that never do sales. That part of the talk was conspicuously light on data… But do you think she’s right?

3. And I’m sorry for making this email even longer, but I just wanted to share how utterly disgusted I am at how at the end of the talk she pivots to talking about how the mainstream thinks games are for kids, and aren’t art, and that makes it OK to milk whales, and just how easy and low-ball the questions were… UGH!

Anyway, hope my email wasn’t too long (I tried, I really really did!).

Keep Being Awesome,


19:18 Mailbag: Cats or dogs?

Dear Diecast

Cats or dogs?

Here is some additional context for you.

21:18 Mailbag: Lesser-Known Favorites?

Dear Diecast!

I think Darek mentioned Gothic, obscure outside of central europe it seems, as an example of an RPG that was very important to him. That made me wonder: do you guys (and girls, if Heather or SoldierHawke cohosts due to Paul’s moving) have games that were seminal, or influenced your tastes but might be lesser known outside of hardcore fans of certain genres? And what stood out to you about them?

For me personally, those titles were, in no particular order: “Jagged Alliance 2”, which made me enjoy round based tactical games with strong RPG mechanics, “Strike Commander”, a Chris Roberts flight sim, which looked stunning for the time and made me interested in flying in general, and “Little Big Adventure” – or “Relentless: Twinsen’s Adventure” as it was called across the pond, which was the second ever game I bought on CD-Rom, which had a depth to the world that I hadn’t seen before in any other game.

Kind regards from winterly Austria

If you’re curious, this is the band I mentioned on the show. And this is what I said about Outcast back in 2007.

29:28 Mailbag: Starsiege Tribes

Dear Diecast,

Shamus has mentioned he likes the movement mechanics in the Spider-Man games, and I was wondering: Shamus, have you ever played an older multiplayer game called Starsiege Tribes? It has a movement mechanic called skiing, where due to the way the physics are programmed, you can gain a lot of momentum by repeatedly jumping while moving down a slope.

Combined with the jetpack mechanics skiing allows you to smoothly and swiftly traverse maps. It was such a big part of the experience that in Tribes 2 the developers made jumping to be repeated by default (in Tribes 1 you only jumped once per keypress) and mentioned it in the tutorial.



31:11 Mailbag: Installed Games

Dear Diecast,

Hope you’re doing well! I like to have very few games installed on my machine. In the past, I tried to have at most three games installed at a time. That way, I could make sure the games I did have were ones I played regularly. For a long time, having any more than three gave me feelings of anxiety, becauseI felt like I was neglecting all these great games I’ve got on my computer.

But in recent years, the number of games I have installed has jumped up significantly! Right now, I’ve got no less than ten (10!) games on my system! So, I wonder – how common is this? How many games do you have installed right now? Do you get the same (or a similar) kind of anxiety, likeI described above?

(And I almost dread to hear what Paul is going to answer: having all those kids run rampant on your computer must have turned it into some sort of Purgatory….)

Keep Being Awesome,


34:41 USB of Mystery

The universe is mocking me.

38:33 Mailbag: Modding for Playability

Dear Diecast,

Hi Shamus, Paul, and Ross (in particular),

Unity, because it uses Mono as one of its internal scripting engines, exports C# assemblies that prove to be relatively easy to decompile and edit. Tools like dnSpy make this trivial so long as you are comfortable with C#.

Because I am still using an upgraded albeit base-model Mac Mini from 2012 as my main computer, I often find myself struggling with performance with recent games, even if they offer extensive options for tweaking graphics. At least with some Unity games, the option has been open to me to dive into the assembly, analyze where untoggle-able graphics features might be present, and then make changes that will make the experience more playable. With 2018’s Battletech, I was able to remove most of the mandatory post-processing pipeline, and that made that game playable.

Most notably, I followed the glowing recommendations for Gone Home from earlier episodes of the Diecast. What I found was a game that was atrociously slow, not only to get past the opening title cards, but to simply play and move around in. I spent some time tweaking graphics settings and found that the game seemed to simulate faster when the framerate was higher. I followed this into the assembly itself and discovered that indeed, the game did dictate a maximum deltaTime step, meaning that if your computer did not maintain the 30fps threshold, that everything — from how quickly the title card faded to how quickly your character moved — slowed down in proportion.

It took me several hours, but I did reshape Gone Home into a game that would be fun for me to play. I increased the character’s move speed, but had to eliminate the view bob (which was not actually toggleable) because it would result in my character jumping across hallways and through the ceiling. I removed mouse acceleration, and even turned off the game’s PVS Culling scheme because it did not de-cull objects fast enough to account for the increased movement speed (and it also seemed to offer no real performance benefit, given that Unity also does occlusion culling by itself). I finished the game in about an hour and enjoyed the experience enough to play it a second time to listen to the developer commentary.

How often have you come across a game that you wanted to enjoy, but couldn’t because there was some small problem with an obvious fix that you otherwise couldn’t make because the internals of the game were locked away? Have you ever had to resort to modding to make a game playable? What’s the furthest you’ve ever gone in order to make an overpowered game play on an underpowered computer?


The Listener Previously, But Let’s Also Go With Currently, Known as ‘Brad.’

42:52 Mailbag: Remaster Wishlist


Shamus, you mentioned a wish about remastering Thief Deadly Shadows. I have very good news for you — the mod called Thief DS Gold, which is a part of Sneaky Upgrade, a patch/mod pack for TDS. This is the mod, that stitches together levels in missions (though, not the City districts), with no fog gates.

So… Are there any other games that you wish that were modded or remastered in a similar fashion?

And since I’m talking Thief here. Did you play any Fan Missions for Thief games? And ever tried The Dark Mod?

Best regards, DeadlyDark

P.S. Say hi to Paul!

47:12 Mailbag: Forgotten Tech

Dear Diecast,

I hope this finds you well! I love learning about old technology, and I just watched this cool 5-minute documentary about the Halcyon – a failed 1980’s gaming console that was kind of like the progenitor of Amazon Alexa (link – https://youtu.be/dSMhZuKyGm0). And it made me wonder:

– Since you were alive back then (or at least Shamus was), do you remember seeing ads for it? If so, what did you think of it at the time?

– In that same vein, has there ever been a piece of technology you really liked, but which never caught on?

– What about the other way around? Was there ever a piece of tech where you thought “This’ll never get off the ground!”, yet it ended up being extremely popular? E.g. I was very sceptical about mobile games, but before I knew it, they were bigger than PC and consoles!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Keep Being Awesome,


53:56 Mailbag: Single-player MMOs

Dear Diecast,

Never playing MMO game before, I decided to tip my toes into one – Star Wars: The Old Republic. To my suprise, I even liked it fine. Still, a lot of things were completly new to me: how the game handles its mechanics, world-building, loot system, social interactions etc. It’s all very illuminating to me – now I understand where lies a birthplace of things I don’t like in modern games. But what suprised me is that a lot of those things suddenly make sense in an MMO game – while being unsuitable for a single player experience.

The easiest and most obvious example for me to use would be Dragon Age: Inquisiton (since, like TOR, it was developed by BioWare). At the time of its premiere a lot of people were saying that it’s basically a Single Player MMO. But for me it was simply a bad game.

But playing an MMO game now, I have to agree with those statements – a lot of things that bothered me in DA: I are the same ones that are being used – sometimes even succesfully – in TOR (loot system, enemies placement, the general structure of the world, quests; heck, TOR has by far better quests and storylines that Inquisiton, what’s up with that?). Generally speaking, everything in Inquisition seem to be designed as if it really was an MMO.

So, I was wondering, why so many modern games (I guess mostly cRPGs) are so fond of using those mechanics, when they make sense in MMOs, but not in single players games? Is it because designers are more experienced with them? Or are they simply more effective at keeping players engaged for a long period of time? Maybe because it’s easier to make games like that if they are to be both Single- and Multiplayer experience?

I’d like to ask you to use your sick psychic powers to read designers’ minds and grant me with that knowledge.

Live long and prosper in the Force,


PS: Speaking of BioWare, apparently Anthem was cancelled. Any comments on that?

59:21 Mailbag: Tetra

Hey Shamus,

you mentioned that you really like Tinker’s mod for Minecraft and that’s why you’re not using 1.16 yet, I was wondering if you’ve checked out Tetra?

It’s a mod that adds tool customization and a few other miscellaneous things (finding geodes in stone that you can crack open to get various materials, underground ruins that contain technology, a bit like TES Dwemer stuff,…). It allows you to switch out the materials that your tools are made of, as well as the type of tool it is (for example you can make a tool with a pickaxe head on one side and an axe head on the other for easy mining through mineshafts).

It doesn’t work too well with tools and implements added by other mods, but it may still be worth checking out.




From The Archives:

80 thoughts on “Diecast #334: Mailbag Binge

  1. jurgenaut says:

    You know.. Inquisition and Andromeda have brought to the table the notion of optional content – Collect 5 cloths and 1 piece of wood and you get “1 Power” or “1% viability”. The problem is the ‘optional’ part. For it to be completely optional, the rewards have to be inconsequential.
    You get power in abundance, and viability is afaik just for getting the best ending.

    We, as gamers – especially RPG players – have been programmed to do everything that is asked of us. Skipping content historically has lead to you having a big grind once you hit the wall – that point where content difficulty ramps up and your character isn’t strong enough (like if you kept running from combat in old final fantasy games, sooner or later your character would be underlevelled for the content you were facing).

    That’s why you were overwhelmed when you reached the hinterlands in DA:I – the first post-tutorial region in the game. You got 14 people asking you to do stuff for them and you just lost track of what you were supposed to do.

    The secret is to just follow the main quest. Do what you were supposed to do. You will not miss out on anything important. Don’t OCD over it. If you happen to get the resources to spend on something optional, sure, go right ahead.

    Dragon Age: Inquisition has the honor of being one of my favourite modern RPGs – for one reason only. It’s the only game I can think of where the bad guy actually moves against you in your camp and it’s such a great sequence. You just had your first major victory and suddenly the bad guy’s armies besiege your dinky fort. It’s all very well made, this insane climax right in the middle of the game.

    Sadly, it’s just a dramatic ploy to get a new better stronghold and the bad guy goes back to doing nothing for the rest of the game but still, it got the blood pumping. It’s easily the best part of the game.

    1. Daimbert says:

      We, as gamers – especially RPG players – have been programmed to do everything that is asked of us. Skipping content historically has lead to you having a big grind once you hit the wall – that point where content difficulty ramps up and your character isn’t strong enough (such as running from combat in old final fantasy games).

      That’s a flaw I’d ding DAI for, though. Not so much having lots to do, but instead for not making it clear how much of those things you NEED to do to be able to pass on to the rest of the game. I was indeed one of the obsessive ones who did as much as I could because my main strategy for dealing with difficulties is to overlevel and I was concerned that I’d be underleveled or would have an inefficient build and so end up stuck at some point. This ended up with me being very overleveled at the end of the game which was even more boring since I still had to do the combats but didn’t get any XP for them. Without being clear on what you need and don’t need to do, you will indeed get people obsessively doing everything, being bored with the game, and quitting it.

      Dragon Age: Inquisition has the honor of being one of my favourite modern RPGs – for one reason only. It’s the only game I can think of where the bad guy actually moves against you in your camp and it’s such a great sequence. You just had your first major victory and suddenly the bad guy’s armies besiege your dinky fort. It’s all very well made, this insane climax right in the middle of the game.

      I think that might be a staple of the Suikoden games. I know for sure that it was in III and V, and in fact that you had to recapture it after it was lost, I think, in V.

      1. Joshua says:

        I was indeed one of the obsessive ones who did as much as I could because my main strategy for dealing with difficulties is to overlevel and I was concerned that I’d be underleveled or would have an inefficient build and so end up stuck at some point.

        Immediately made me think of Divinity: Original Sin 2 where you need every point of XP you can get because you don’t want to end up even one level lower than the norm by the end, and there’s all kinds of inefficient builds that you could trap yourself in. It’s a weird tug of war between deciding how to resolve quests based upon what makes the most sense in-character and what gives you the most XP (without penalties).

    2. Philadelphus says:

      It’s the only game I can think of where the bad guy actually moves against you in your camp and it’s such a great sequence.

      The sequences in XCOM and XCOM 2 where the aliens attack your base/flying base are also pretty great missions (I think with War of the Chosen it can even happen multiple times over a playthrough, though I usually finish off the Chosen fast enough it hasn’t happened.)

    3. John says:

      Dragon Age: Inquisition has the honor of being one of my favourite modern RPGs – for one reason only. It’s the only game I can think of where the bad guy actually moves against you in your camp and it’s such a great sequence. You just had your first major victory and suddenly the bad guy’s armies besiege your dinky fort. It’s all very well made, this insane climax right in the middle of the game.

      I think Bioware does this kind of thing relatively often. Or used to. (I couldn’t say for sure. I haven’t played a Bioware game myself since Knights of the Old Republic.) In Knights of the Old Republic Malak regularly sends mini-bosses after you, up to and including himself once you obtain your third Star Map. He’s not just sitting around. Before Knights of the Old Repubic there was Hordes of the Underdark, the expansion for Neverwinter Nights. Act 2 of Hordes of the Underdark is about a war in the Underdark between the Valsharess, the self-styled Drow empress, and the few remaining Drow hold outs. If you’re familiar with RPG tropes you might reasonably expect the act’s climax to occur only after you’ve had the chance to complete all of the act’s quests and sidequests, but the game is scripted in such a way that the climax triggers when you returns to the act’s hub area after completing just four of the act’s five major quests. It was quite the surprise for me on my first playthrough.

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        There’s also the Collectors invading your ship in Mass Effect 2, although the circumstances are so contrived that this part isn’t generally remembered fondly.

        1. Dalisclock says:

          Yeah, that’s made annoying because once that happens, you’re under an invisible time limit to finish the game and still have a shot get the best ending. So if you spend too much time faffing about after the crew is kidnapped, you find some or most of them dead when you go to get them back.

          And that trigger is when you decide to go investigate the dead reaper, but there’s no way to know that at the time. So with benefit of hindsight, the best way to do everything in the game is hold off on the dead reaper mission until you’ve done pretty much everything else you can do and then trigger that mission to set the endgame in motion.

          1. Chad+Miller says:

            I’m not really talking about the time limit (I’m one of the people who liked that part) although I realize that did annoy people too. For me it’s more the setup where you click on the map and then your entire team piles into the away shuttle for no reason (except to be away from the ship while the crew gets kidnapped). It’s fine to add some tension by having the villains be proactive, but not if the game has to cheat so blatantly. (just about the only comparably bad thing I can think of is the giant time skip at the end of Fable III where you go from “you have months to prepare for the attack” to “the city is under attack!” after you go to bed once)

            1. Chris says:

              I didnt like the timelimit because you get legion from the dead reaper mission. I ended up not caring about him since i was told about the timelimit and thus only had him for a short time.

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                I was mostly the other way around. To be fair the first time I’ve played I think I assumed it was a “fake” limit, as is the case with most games, though at the end of the day the crewmembers I liked the most (Joker and Chakwas) survive anyway so I was pretty okay with the way it worked out and if/when I replay the game I think I might sacrifice the crew again just for a better flow of the team members’ storylines.

    4. Jeff says:

      Your capital gets attacked in Pathfinder Kingmaker, that was pretty neat.

      Your capital’s look and inhabitants change depending on your alignment (for the former) and the various decisions you made in quests and missions (the latter) so it has just enough emotional attachment to feel like it’s “yours”. Contrast that with DAI’s camp, I don’t think I ever felt any sort of ownership when we were attacked. It was just another map.

      I think the last time I felt that sense of ownership was back in Neverwinter Nights 2, where the whole game was basically building up your keep and equipping/training an army.

  2. Philadelphus says:

    How many games do you have installed right now? Do you get the same (or a similar) kind of anxiety, like I described above?

    Well, to add a data point, according to Steam I own 146 games and since I bought a 2 TB SSD at the start of 2019 I’ve been able to have basically all of them installed at once, currently taking up 692 GB (the vast majority being indies with install sizes of at most a few GB; checking, the largest one is XCOM 2 at 70 GB). I’ve also got a few non-Steam games like Dwarf Fortress installed, though those don’t take up much space. I think I occasionally used to feel bad about not having played something for a while, but I’ve gotten over it with increasing age. Like, I don’t feel bad because I’m not reading every book in my personal library all the time, so I’ve learned similarly to accept that games can be completed and left alone without it meaning they aren’t loved and appreciated. And my desires are pretty mercurial and I never know when I’ll get the urge to play something I last played a few years ago anyway, so it’s great to be able to have everything available to sample whenever I feel like it.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Yeah, for me the tension doesn’t come from the games I have installed, especially since unless I’m running low on disk space I don’t uninstall games that I’ve played and haven’t finished, or even finished. So I expect there to be lots of games on all my systems that I’m not playing. What HAS caused a bit of anxiety for me has been stacks of games or even my rather large GOG library knowing that I’m not really making any progress towards them and they keep getting bigger and bigger.

      1. tmtvl says:

        I have actually managed to play most of my library by just setting aside a week once every three months where I only play games I haven’t tried yet. That said, there are games that I’m not gonna touch because I got them in some package deal and they fill me with revulsion, disdain, or some combination of the two (The Witcher, Zombillie, Redneck Rampage Collection,…).

    2. Lino says:

      I own 146 games and since I bought a 2 TB SSD at the start of 2019 I’ve been able to have basically all of them installed at once

      YOU HAVE ALL OF THEM AT ONCE!?!?!?!? I thought Shamus was an anomaly, but it seems this site is full of them! It’s a good thing I decided to skip my afternoon tea! Otherwise, my desk would have turned into a swimming pool due to all the spit-takes from reading comments from people like you and the others!

      1. Geebs says:

        I have a 512 GB SSD, a 256 GB SSD and a 2 TB HDD in my gaming PC, all of which are full.

        I used to also have another 256 GB SSD in there until last week when I pulled it out and replaced it with another 2 TB HDD which I have since filled with games I’m not currently playing.

        Sorry about your desk.

        1. Lino says:

          OK, new policy – don’t ingest any food or fluids while reading this thread. I legit almost choked on my chocolate bar! Anyway, let me just wash it down with some water while reading Echo Tango’s comment below….

        2. Syal says:

          I ended up buying a 4 TB external hard drive to put games on, concentrating on GOG games in case something happens to them, but moving Steam games over too. It’s about 2TB full right now.

          Keep in mind, I have a download speed of 100kb/s. Shadow of Mordor took weeks to install. I really, really don’t want to wait to install a game until I’m ready to play it.

          1. Geebs says:

            Yeah, a couple of years ago I lived in a place with a 1.5 Mb/s connection. After limiting download speeds so that other people in the house could actually use the internet, the average game took about three days to arrive. That was enough to turn me into a bit of a hoarder.

      2. Echo+Tango says:

        I don’t have many games installed, but I’ve only got a 2.5″[1] 256 GB SSD. If I had 2TB or more, like the dude above, I’d probably have most of my games installed.

        [1] This is what used to be installed in laptops the most. I’m not sure if the new fancy M.2 size is in new laptops, or just in other things like tablets. /shrug

      3. Philadelphus says:

        Ha ha, I’m glad too, for your desk’s sake! Some of what people said above about download speed sparked a thought and might help explain it: I only had dial-up internet up until I moved away to college in 2009 (and only got a Steam account in 2011, when I realized that yes, downloading games was actually a viable thing to do with broadband). And even though I’ve had high enough internet speeds ever since that I generally could download most of my games in less than a few hours, it might be that I’m still subconsciously loathe to uninstall something as long as I have the space for it.

        As an additional fun fact (you may wish to refrain from consuming any edibles just in case), I also own 269 DLC according to Steam. (A decent chunk at least from owning several Paradox games.)

    3. John says:

      I have eleven games installed on the notebook PC I’m using right now, but six of them are GBA games that take up almost no space on the hard drive. There are probably about two dozen games installed on my actual gaming PC at the moment. I tend to leave games installed on my PCs unless either I need the space for another game or application or I’m so frustrated or disgusted with a game that I uninstall it in a fit of pique. Unlike a lot people, however, my Steam and GOG libraries are fairly small–which is a weird thing to say when you consider that they each contain about thirty to forty games–so I actually have a substantial fraction of the games I own installed right now.

    4. Grimwear says:

      Currently sitting at 58/428 installed. It was more but I needed to delete a bunch to get some extra diskspace. Turns out new games take up lots of room. 40gb for AAA titles? What the heck. I heard Gear 5 takes up something ridiculous like 80 though and the new COD over 100? What’s up with that.

      1. Shas'Ui says:

        Modern AAA games are certainly getting absurd (Red Dead Online is something like 120gb), but for me, the issue is mods, which A: Tend not to be as packed-down/optimized, & B: are more easily acquired. My entire 500gb SSD is taken up by ARMA3, which is Only 63 gb (Including a 20gb DLC). The ~250gb of mods is after substantial pruning; even restricting myself to mods I’ve actually used as opposed to considered using, I could easily fill up another hundred gigs if I had space.
        Then there is the 2TB HDD, which is also mostly full, thanks to the the other 70 installed (out of 485; humble bundle does scary things) steam games, plus ~ a dozen through other stores.
        ~300gb worth in “Music”: ~100gb of which is podcasts, half of which data-wise are multi-hour video downloads I never bothered converting once I found my podcasting app could handle mp4. A dozen of those is matching datawise several hundred traditional mp3s. Another 100 is likely distributed among the uncompressed versions of various game soundtracks, with only 1/3rd of the overall total being “normal mp3s”, which are my go to for listening.
        ~80gb for my entire Epic library: 7 installed games, biggest is 40gb.
        ~65gb in Ubisoft, 1 installed game. Usually my first place to cull, but stuck with this as it’s an odd free-weekend deal, so I might not be able to reinstall.
        ~7gb worth of minecraft, between various mods/installs
        ~500gb of steam on the HDD, ~50gb of which is mods: most notably, 30gb for XCOM2, which I don’t actually have the full DLC set for.

        Most Spit-take worthy factoids: I have at least 20 games installed that I have not ever played & likely will not play within a month. Of these, at least one was likely installed on a previous computer, and continually on this one, starting in 2015 (according to steam). Another has a year-separate sequel installed alongside it, despite it being installed yet untouched for that entire year.

    5. Moridin says:

      I have about a dozen games installed(it’s hard to count how many because many of them are in various different wine-prefixes, but that’s only because I want all my(installed) games to fit in my SSD, which is only 250GB. I had more, but Total War: Warhammer 2 in its entirety takes up about 80GB, so I had to actually delete a bunch of them when I started playing it.

      I actually ordered a 1TB SSD last autumn, but it wouldn’t work on my computer(troubleshooting led me to believe the NVME slot of my motherboard doesn’t work) and my old hard drive died, so I ended up returning it and ordering a new, bigger HDD instead. I don’t actually play many new games, and everything else either goes on the HDD(videos, music, etc) or fits well enough on the 250GB SSD, so I’ve been putting off ordering a bigger SATA SSD. I’ll be due a motherboard/CPU upgrade in a couple years(planning on Zen4+/Zen5) so I might limp along with 250GB until then(hopefully by then 2TB SSDs will be cheaper).

    6. Wolf says:

      So here is the thing. I kinda empathize with the notion of wanting very few games installed on your PC, but (and it is a big BUT) Epic and Twitch Prime keep gifting me games and have no sorting, tagging or other organisation feature in place to help me remember what I tried and what is on my “to try” list…
      So I end up installing games to put them on my “to try” list.

      As a result I have 25 Epic Games and 50 Twitch Games installed.
      Also I have 87 Steam Games installed, maybe I should filter those down a bit, but thats a lot of small multiplayer stuff as well.

  3. Joe says:

    I still use Winamp, with a bunch of different skins. These days I usually know where all the controls are. But I mostly use keyboard controls anyway.

    I used to have a German Shepard. He was slim probably by choice, because he was certainly given enough food. Also, scared of balls. Teach him to retrieve them? First he’d have to stop running away from them! But a very good watch dog, probably by instinct. I remember one place my family lived, his preferred spot was where he could watch the maximum amount of doors.

    An old favourite was Dungeon Siege. Fun ARPG, though I’ll agree it had some odd design choices. Yeah, it got two sequels. Neither lived up to the original.

    I currently have nine games installed out of 115*, because this PC is fairly new-ish and I’m currently only DLing the ones I want to play. Probably get around to more sooner or later. While many games sound interesting, I’m still content playing the same half-dozen to death.

    *That number doesn’t count all the old ones I used to have on CD and haven’t rebought on Steam or GOG. But there’s also a few double-ups between the two services. Some games seem to run better from one but not the other.

    1. tmtvl says:

      On Steam I have 17 games installed out of 487 (I had a few months of Humble Monthly back in the day). I have 8 games from GOG installed out of 483, as well as 9 games from the OpenSUSE Games repository (Nethack, Dungeon Crawl,…).

      34 games total, and then people say you can’t play games on GNU/Linux, heh.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Oh yeah, that reminds me I’ve got a few games like The Ur-Quan Masters and OpenTTD installed from the Debian repositories too.

    2. Echo+Tango says:

      I used to have a Fallout 2 skin for Winamp, from like grade 12 to mid-way through university. It was basically a rectangle, and therefore usable as a program, but still had all the colors, buttons, etc, look like the Pip-Boys. :)

  4. Addie says:

    Really, I think that if you have the skill to comprehend and modify the Gone Home rendering pipeline using just the decompiled assembly, then in the several hours that it took you, then you could easily have earned enough to buy a machine that could run it properly – my old old laptop could do it, and something that was no way state-of-the-art from fifteen years ago is not going to set you back very much now. Still a very impressive set of skills and a nice hack, though.

    I don’t think there’s any developer that purposefully sets out to write inefficient code, but it looks like Fullbright was a four-person team back when they released it; they may not have had a suitably potato PC to actually turn up the performance issues, and in such a small team they’d have probably had other priorities than targetting the small proportion of their target market running such legacy or under-powered hardware, there’d be other things more worthy of polishing.

  5. tmtvl says:

    Welp, I didn’t mean my recommendation for Tetra to make it into the Diecast, but there you go.

    For anyone who likes First Person Shooters and cool movement mechanics, I have nothing but good things to say about the Tribes series (Starsiege Tribes, Tribes 2, Vengeance,…). SST and T2 have even been released for free in 2004.

  6. Lino says:

    YOU’VE GOT HOW MANY GAMES?!?! I don’t know what’s more frightening – the sheer amount Shamus has, or the fact that Paul doesn’t even KNOW how many he’s got on his other computer! But thank you for sharing. After the mini heart attack that segment gave me, it made me realise why I have this problem – when I was a kid, we used to have a family computer that some family members were using for work. It was back when 125 GB of hard drive space seemed like an unattainable overindulgance reserved for bluest of blue-bloods. So it was very important to only keep the games I was currently playing. But as time went on, and I got more and more powerful machines (which I didn’t have to share with anyone), I guess I just never broke that habit. Looking at it now, I’ve got a 1.05 TB drive reserved specifically for games, and I’ve got 757 GB free! I should try and live a little!

    [F2P Games Rant]

    Other than that, thank you for taking the time to talk about all my questions! I’m glad I’m not the only one outraged at that GDC talk! A big gripe I have is that none of the industries she lists rely on whales the same way F2P games do. From the data she shared at the start of the talk (which – unlike the rest of the talk – is actual data), 50% of their revenue comes from 0.1% of their userbase. Now, I agree with the 80/20 rule as much as the next guy, but an 80/20 this is not. Don’t try to convince us this is similar to other industries.

    Another thing she neglects to mention is ownership. When you pay for two hours at a skating rink, you get two hours at the skating rink. If you pay for two hours, and only get one, that’s cause for a lawsuit. With F2P games, you don’t own jack. At any point, the game’s servers could shut down, and everything you “own” in the game, is gone forever. And as per most EULA’s, the company isn’t obligated to reimburse you. Same thing applies for game patches. In digital card games, you could spend real money on booster packs to get rare cards, which could get nerfed in tomorrow’s patch. Again, the company isn’t obligated to reimburse you.

    [/F2P Games Rant]

    Since when are Outkast obscure? They’ve had two very big hits – the latter of which happened very recently.

    Also, people don’t know about PM Dawn? Really? That song is iconic! But it makes me think – what else do people not know about?

    1. Michael says:

      When you pay for two hours at a skating rink, you get two hours at the skating rink. If you pay for two hours, and only get one, that’s cause for a lawsuit. With F2P games, you don’t own jack. At any point, the game’s servers could shut down, and everything you “own” in the game, is gone forever.

      This comparison tends to undermine your point. If you pay for two hours at a skating rink, you get it, and after two hours, everything you just purchased is gone forever.

      If you pay for a costume in a F2P game, it’ll last a lot longer than your skating rink access did.

      1. Lino says:

        If you pay for a costume in a F2P game, it’ll last a lot longer than your skating rink access did.

        Not necessarily. Take a costume for skating, for example. Once you buy it, it’s yours. If you take good care of it, it could last you for decades. A F2P game costume is owned by the game company. If the servers shut down, it’s gone. If there are stats associated with it, at any point the devs could rebalance the game in such a way that that costume becomes useless.

        Now, in a way, I agree with you – skating rink hours aren’t like costumes in a F2P game. They’re more more akin to Experience Boosters, or other “convenience” mechanics. Still, the same rules apply as I described above. Even more so.

        Also, time spent skating (or doing any sport, really) has a number of health benefits associated with practicing sport. What are the health benefits of lootboxes, exactly? Especially when you add the fact that you could end up buying up ?xperience to level up a character that gets nerfed to the ground, and is never again a viable option. The benefits you get from sports (or practicing instruments, or whatever) stay with you for a long, long time.

        Now, am I saying this means that should we never spend money on games? No, not at all! All I’m saying is, is that it’s very inappropriate to equate the value you get from F2P purchases to other hobbies. It’s just not the same thing, and that GDC talk talks about it in a very disingenuous way.

        Also, most successful F2P games use gacha and/or lootboxes. Going back to our hobby example, it’s like paying $1000 for a golf club, and there being a big chance of the seller taking that $1000 and giving you a club that costs $10. Again, not saying that isn’t a fun experience (gambling isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but notice how at no point in that talk does the speaker mention the word “gambling”. Maybe it’s not a big deal, but it really left a bad taste in my mouth.

        1. Geebs says:

          Loot boxes and other F2P mechanics aren’t gambling, really. They’re more like optical illusions which work on the bits of the brain which respond to gambling. Expensive ones.

        2. Shas'Ui says:

          I’d argue that XP boosters aren’t the right comparison either: it’s access to the core gameplay that’s time limited, more akin to old arcade games than most modern models, although even those are usually based on continues rather than straight time. The difference is your time at any physical activity is limited by your physical endurance, so they are incentivized to give you as good a time as profitable within that window, and then push a few micro-transactions or an ongoing subscription, but even the best theme park won’t be able to keep you invested for more than 8 hours.
          Video games have much more flexibility in when they can take your time, and are incentivized to keep you playing for as long a period as possible, if not a continuous period. Thus, login bonuses, daily/weekly events, things that try to ensure that playing is a daily, repeated activity.

    2. Echo+Tango says:

      I at least like that Ms. Greer has some positive advice to give. She had a few points in her talk, and repeated when answering questions, that game companies shouldn’t try to force players to spend money, should treat them with respect, etc. I think her point is valid, that the games with gotcha mechanics are pushing away people who would otherwise choose to spend large amounts of money in those games…but totally dances around the issue of manipulating other people into spending large amounts money they don’t want (or can’t afford) to spend. A tiny baby step forward for the industry, I guess. :|

    3. Joshua says:

      I got my first ever Hard Drive as a Christmas present back around 1990 or so. It was a whopping 20 MB!

      Actually, even back then in the days of 5 1/4″ floppies, that didn’t go THAT far, and I had to monitor which games I had installed because it wasn’t that hard to get near the cap back when a game might come with 4-6 disks.

      1. Lino says:

        Remember when games came on only one disk? I remember boggling at the fact that Diablo II had three disks – one Install disk, one Play disk, and one for the cinematics!

        1. John says:

          Yes. But that disk was a 5.25-inch floppy disk, not the CD you’re talking about. You young whippersnapper you.

          1. Nimrandir says:

            I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle. I remember having to switch 3.5-inch disks for Gateway to the Savage Frontier.

            I still have the 3.5-inch disk with the LaTeX code for my master’s thesis on it, too.

            1. John says:

              Sometimes when I’m feeling my age, I remember that I am in fact not quite old enough to ever have seen a computer with a cassette drive and then I feel a little better.

              I think the last time I used a 3.5-inch disk was to hand in some Fortran code for a class assignment in graduate school circa 2004. I don’t know why we had to do things that way. I mean, I had long since moved on to USB thumb drives for removable storage otherwise. Also, we all had e-mail and accounts on the same Unix machines, which is where I, at least, wrote, compiled, and executed the code before handing it in. It may have been that the professor was just old exceptionally set in his ways. As I recall, he retired just a year or two later.

              1. Echo Tango says:

                My dad had 5.25″ floppies on his computer when I was really young. We never had the casette’s, but those were more common on the “gaming” type computers like Commodore 64s by the time we started getting computers in our family. (And we were earlier than others.)

              2. Lino says:

                Big institutions are crazy sometimes. For my Master’s thesis (2019), I had to hand it on paper and on a CD. Yes, a CD (which in 2019 meant a DVD, because I don’t think they sell CDs anymore). In 2019. And all it had was a Word document! I would have been outraged at the complete waste of storage space, if I wasn’t outraged at how behind the times they were!

    4. Kyle Haight says:

      50% of revenue from .1% of your customers is about an order of magnitude off from the 80/20 rule. If you apply it iteratively, you would expect to get just over 50% of your revenue (.8*.8*.8) from just under 1% of your customers (.2*.2*.2).

    5. nunyabidness says:

      I just got to the part in this video where she’s comparing purchasing an absolutely elite beast-tier PC gaming rig ($5,000-10,000 in her example) to any other sport where you’d “pay to increase your skill”. That, somehow, PC gamers apparently need a a PC as expensive as a cheap car to *increase their skill in league of legends*.

      Uh…. no. That’s not how that works. In pretty much every competitive PC game in the world, the price of entry is sub-$1000 for a system that will let you compete without being bounded by hardware constraints. Everything above that is pretty much just future-proofing and dick-measuring.

      I guess it fits in with the general theme of her talk, though — which amounts to “let me WAG some numbers at you to justify the f2p market that I have profited off of so richly.”

  7. John says:

    I have reasonably fond memories of the Intellivision. We didn’t own one, but some family friends did. I spent a lot of time playing Intellivision Baseball at their house. They had a few other games, too, but Baseball was by far the best and, I’m afraid, the only one I remember even semi-distinctly today. The wonderful thing about the Intellivision was that the controller contained both a numpad and a paddle. It allowed for games with much more complex inputs than the Atari 2600, whose games were designed with either one-button joysticks or paddles in mind. Each game came with an overlay for the controller which would tell you what the various numpad buttons were supposed to do. The unfortunate thing about the Intellivision is that the buttons on the numpad were these awful membrane things. They might have been all right when new, but on the controllers I used they didn’t always register presses cleanly and were sometimes very awkward to use. The Intellivsion game I played the most was Lock ‘n’ Chase, a Pac Man clone, which I did not actually play on an Intellivsion. Instead I played the Apple II port. Lock ‘n’ Chase could get quite speedy as you neared the final level. The thought of using the horrible Intellivision controller buttons rather than IJKL on a decent keyboard is nauseating.

    Moving on to other subjects, I am very much not a mobile gamer in the contemporary sense of the term. I have zero games on my smartphone at the moment. That said, practically the first thing I do with every electronic device I acquire is try to put games–usually Tetris or chess–on it. When I got a Palm Pilot back around 2006 or so you’d better believe that the first thing I looked up were what games were available for it. The answer turned out to be not many because Palm was on its deathbed in 2006. When some customer satisfaction survey people called me about my Palm Pilot they seemed amazed and grateful that I’d bought one at all. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that it had been a more or less free pack-in with a laptop I’d just purchased. I played the one game that came pre-installed on the Palm Pilot a fair bit, though. If I’m not gaming on my smartphone now, it’s mostly because when I’m on the bus or in a waiting room I’d generally rather use it as an e-reader or to browse the internet. Gaming is too distracting in those situations and also uses up the battery charge faster.

    1. Kyle Haight says:

      I played a lot of Bejeweled on my Palm Treo 650 back in the day.

      1. John says:

        I can’t remember which model I had. It was a small, white thing with a color screen. I kind of loved it, at first for the calendar and contacts apps and later as an e-reader that I could hold in one hand on the subway while holding on to something else with the other. Taking notes on the Palm Pilot was a pain and a half and I can’t believe that anyone ever seriously tried to use it that way. It was faster and more reliable to take notes on paper and transfer them to the Palm Pilot later. I have similar issues with my smartphone today, although I will say that the on-screed keyboard is at least a little better than trying to write with a stylus.

  8. Smejki says:

    Shamus, check up an obscure Ukrainian game Precursors.
    Never played it but heard a lot about it back in the day. Your talk about Starflight reminded me of it.

  9. bobbert says:

    For your static problem you could screw a length of copper pipe to the edge of your desk. then send a little wire to a grounding pin in one of your outlets or your toilet, whichever is closer. Use that as a arm rest and you have no more static issues.

  10. DeadlyDark says:

    MC that has the brother, named Kadar? I could be wrong, but it sounds a lot like T2X Shadows of the Metal Age – a fully realized fan campaign of about 10-15 missions (with voice overs and cinematics), where you play as Zaya, somewhere around the time when The Metal Age happened.

    The highlight of the campaign for me – the train mission, where you sneak on a moving train. No idea how they achieved this on the engine, but seeing that yes, the train moves through wilderness, is quite impressive

    As for how TDS Gold was made… If I understand it correctly, it’s basically made as a campaign made from FMs, its just that they copy-pasted the levels to combine them together

  11. Daimbert says:

    The most influential lesser known games for me probably were:

    Shadow Hearts, which got me started on JRPGs.
    Dark Age of Camelot, which got me started on MMOs.
    And probably Defender of the Crown, which got me started on RPG-type games.

  12. Dreadjaws says:

    Alright, let’s see, in my Steam library I have… 38 installed games (not counting demos or software) out of a total of 1215. 17 on GOG Galaxy out of a total of 308. A couple from Origin, one from UPlay, a dozen or so more that don’t have a platform… 15 in my Nintendo Switch (not counting the NES and SNES classic availables I have installed that come included with the online service). And I’m not going to even count the ones on platforms I own but I’m not currently using like the PS3, PSP or 3DS.

    That’s 85+ games ready to play from a total library of Too Fucking Many™. I’d have even more installed if it were not for the fact that I had to uninstall a bunch to make space for Cyberpunk 2077 (which I’ve since deleted but not installed anything in its place). I’m a goddamn game hoarder, I know.

    1. Lino says:

      1215…. How… What…. Whyyy…. I mean…. When would you ever………

      Ok, I’ll just assume this was a typo and move on! Otherwise, I might actually go insane :D

  13. Syal says:

    Can’t think of any obscure games that influenced my taste going forward, but I have fond memories of a few.

    Closest thing to influential was probably Strike Gunner for SNES, a flight shooter where you had a list of special weapons and picked a new one at the start of each level. Being able to take the superweapon into Level 1 and murder the boss far harder than necessary was a good time.

    I suppose Lords of the Realm 2 goes on here, played that once at a relative’s house before I found out about Total War. It’s the first game I played that had a building phase covering the map, combined with isolated tactical battles.

    Milon’s Secret Castle was so hard I never cleared a single level on the second floor, but the style of “you have to shoot and shove literally everything to find progress” has a strange appeal. Far more so than the standard RPG “you have to explore every crevice or you’re leaving stuff behind”; Milon had to explore every crevice to be able to leave at all. I’m strangely much more okay with that.

    RBI Baseball for the NES was the first baseball game I played, and I had a lot of fun with it, even though there was no way to save progress so the campaign was basically impossible. Likewise, Tecmo Bowl for NES was the best kind of football, where you break a tackle by throwing the defender 30 feet into the air. It also had a campaign mode with no way to save that was again basically impossible, though I managed to finish it once by leaving the console on for several days.

    Congo’s Caper was a rental, but there’s a boss fight that consists of hitting mooks until you get invincibility because you can only hurt the boss while invincible, and that stuck with me.

    …I guess The Bouncer? The Bouncer was fun.

    1. Syal says:

      Oh right, Jet Moto 2 and Grand Tour Racing for Playstation. Jet Moto 2 just had a good feel, while Grand Tour Racing had courses where fallen drivers wouldn’t respawn, so you could push a car into a water trap and they’d be completely out of the race. And the non-eliminating wrecks could still be impressive; managed to sideswipe a car in a tunnel and flip him up off the ceiling.

    2. Chad+Miller says:

      Huh. I also had Milon’s Secret Castle as a kid and am kinda surprised to hear the second floor is where you got stuck.

      Since GameFAQs didn’t exist yet and I didn’t even have the Internet I remember getting stuck on the first floor for years. The only reason I was able to progress is because of a little-known quirk in the game: it read input from all controller ports. This meant that, say, if I was playing and my little sister decided to troll me by pressing buttons on the #2 controller, then Milon would start trying to obey both sets of button presses at once. This is how I found out you could move blocks and in turn what led to me beating the rest of the game.

      1. Syal says:

        The extra enemies on the second floor levels were enough to do me in. I can’t look for secrets and dodge at the same time, especially not the way Milon controls.

  14. Grimwear says:

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around the inelastic nature of games. I can see how she could think that but at the same time games have not worked like every other product because for some reason game publishers think they’re special when they’re not. Generally goods release at a high price then over time drop that price to get as many buyers as possible at different brackets. This should be used like crazy in games, especially in digital goods since the cost to create a copy is next to nothing. But it’s not. Total Warhammer, a 5 year old game is still selling for full price. Rome 2, an 8 year old game? Full price. What I believed happened are that Steam Sales showed up, and suddenly game publishers started pricing their games at what their regular price should be for the sale. So Total Warhammer which costs 72 Cad and I argue sells no copies full price, instead gets priced at 16 Cad and gets some sales. It’s inelastic because none of these game companies are freaking participating in the system so the only option for the lower bracket buyers are a) piracy, b) wait for a sale or c) go without (aka put it on a wishlist with all the other overpriced games then forget about it and buy other stuff during sales. This is me.). The only exception I know of is Capcom. And even they aren’t great at it. Re7 released at full price but has slowly dropped over time and is currently sitting at 40 Cad. Same with RE2 which is currently at 55 Cad. At some point RE3 will also start dropping. And those are permanent price drops, in ADDITION to sales. They’re actually acting like goods sellers. It’s wild.

    She says Steam Sales are only successful because they’re an event but lady those sales are the only time where these companies even interact with lower price buyers. Which is insanely inefficient because if you put your game down to say 30 dollars then you’ve missed out on a bunch of money which could have been made from buyers at 55, 50, 45, etc. Everyone buys at either full price or sale price. I don’t get it. And for my anecdotal evidence when I was in uni I would buy maybe a game a month. Games were still priced at 60 Cad but I had to pay 65 because the only place nearby was Eb Games and they tacked an extra 5 dollars to all their games. But then they tested raising the base price to 70. I did buy one game at 70 but that was too expensive for me. I never bought a full priced game since on any system. Currently a new release is 80 Cad. I can only imagine how many people are priced out.

    As a final note I will say that the other issue is that the only time we see games naturally drop in price, and quickly, are when they flop hard. That’s the only data we have on it. For example Battleborn, a game in such dire straits they dropped price immediately. But they dropped the price on a game with next to no sales to begin with and which no one wanted so it really doesn’t help with any useful data.

    1. Shas'Ui says:

      Total Warhammer isn’t the best example, as owning it unlocks its content in Total Warhammer 2, making a sort of prequel DLC. That said, there are plenty of other examples; I recall seeing some of the Call Of Duty games at full AAA price, despite being the older, non-remake versions; almost wonder if they were trying to trick people given the remakes releasing (EA Exclusive) at the time.

      What makes this even more odd is early access pricing, where games go from cheaper to more expensive as more features are added, such as Rimworld. Imagine if AAA games worked the same way, and you could get them cheaper as preorders.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I’ve wondered if the lack of price cuts is an indirect encouragement to buy the current version of running franchises. Back when Shamus did his series on Civilization, I put Civ V on my Steam wishlist, waiting for a sale to give the series a shot. The price has sat motionless at $29.99, through at least two major Steam sales.

        Note that I’m not saying this is a good business practice; I’m just hypothesizing based on the price rigidity of the one older game in a franchise I have followed.

        1. Shas'Ui says:

          It’s an interesting potential explanation; with Civ V it may be an odd example as there are 2 big DLCs that they’d very much like you to also get, so those DLC’s might go on sale, thus lowering the “Complete Collection” price without touching the base game. This is further muddied by the fact that both base & Complete are on sale at the moment on humble, though only a minor 11% off, which is shared by VI.
          I’d have shared a spare code with you, but they did something weird & tied it to some other keys (XCOM EU if I recall) in that humble-bundle: further evidence that something weird is going on with the series. (Only time I’ve seen a key tied to unrelated games: the whole thing was set up so that you couldn’t break out parts to your friends, as different dlcs were attached to the same key as unrelated base games.)

        2. John says:

          I got Civilization V for peanuts in a bundle which unfortunately did not include any of the DLC. I’ve got the DLC in my wishlist and, while it does go on sale occasionally, the price doesn’t drop very much. I’m not sure what the deal is, given that Civlization V has long since been superseded by Civilization VI and its DLC.

  15. Erik says:

    Speaking as an EE, static can be serious stuff. If you have enough electrostatic potential to cause sparks, that’s a minimum of about 400 volts, and any shock you can actually feel is well over 2000 volts. For electronics that used to run at 5V, then 3.3V, and are now often 2.2 or 1.8 V, this is a serious jolt even if the current is low.

    The reason you suddenly saw it was the cold weather recently. Colder air holds less moisture, which is one of the channels we normally use to bleed off charge into the environment, so as we all know we get way more static in the winter, and why humidifiers help. The recent polar vortex made it that much worse, which is why it suddenly blew up for you during the last week or so.

    Someone else had reasonable ideas for grounding your equipment and yourself; I’d recommend running a wire from a ground lug on a plug to a little metal plate you can mount by the side of your desk, where you can ground yourself on it before sitting down or getting up, and maybe under your keyboard or mousepad. Or find one of those electrostatic floor mats that you can run a ground wire to at an office supply shop/site. (Pricier, but meant to solve exactly this problem.)

    1. Shas'Ui says:

      I worked for 5 years at a static-sensitive factory, and often left the static-straps on my shoes; afterwards, it took a long time to reacquaint myself to the many small static sources that I could now feel much more acutely thanks to being insulated (pardon the pun) from them for so long.
      Definitely consider grounding “the equipment” first though: while you can avoid some shocks by grounding yourself, it helps a lot to not have every particle of dust decide that the computer is the best place to hang. The worst offenders are trash-cans: cheap plastic that gains & holds a charge forever, making it near impossible to throw away things with a high surface-area to mass ratio, like plastic peanuts or thin plastic bags. One particularly recalcitrant rubbish-bin would actively eject such things not manually placed past the half-way depth and touching a wall.

  16. GoStu says:

    That GDC talk started my teeth grinding too.

    The path of:
    – People will spend thousands of dollars on some of their hobbies
    – Gaming could be a hobby
    – Therefore it’s fine to spend thousands of dollars on a game

    Seems like shitty rationalizing to justify the highway robbery that games seems to be trying to get away with.

    I did have to pause and examine my own objections a bit though. As a skier I’ll pay >$100/day to ski once I add up lift ticket, gas to drive to/from hill, lunch, and a beer with said lunch. Add in the cost of all my gear and yes, I’ve spent quite a sum on skiing. Is my complaint really about the % markup?

    After some reflection, I really think that it is, or at least a significant part of my objections is. I don’t feel like anyone’s trying to rip me off at any step in the skiing hobby: my gear is really good quality, lunch is… marked up but I have other options, and gas is what gas costs. A lift ticket is pricey, but so is running the whole resort.

    Meanwhile, once a game is developed the price is… digital delivery? Everything else is just deliberate markup, and there’s a lot of built-in arm-twisting in games like that to try and persuade you to part with more money.

    If my favorite ski hill decided to section off chunks of the hill on a given day and demand double the ticket price for the “full access” experience, I’d be pissed right off. If they decided that lifts up were $X but there was a surcharge for every ride down I’d be pissed off too. If they decided that the terrain park was “an essential part of the skiing experience” and you had to pass through at least once and be graded on your performance, and then they tried to sell lessons on jumps and tricks I’d be burn it all down and piss on the ashes levels of furious.

    So yeah. What a disingenuous infuriating pack of lies that person tried to package off as consumer info.

    1. Shas'Ui says:

      SNOW, a skiing game I played a bit in early access, decided upon release it was going to go Free to Play (Please Buy Things). This included, among other things, taking the biggest, most detailed, previously default map & putting it behind a timed paywall, where you could spend small sums for temporary access ($15 for a week, IFRC), or something absurd ($100+?) for permanent access. As a concession to prior players, they offered a month code, which I never decided to use, as I didn’t want it expiring. Apparently they weren’t successful in their F2Pay push, as it appears it’s now gone back to being a paid game without timed access.

      Some interesting considerations as to value of real-ski vs digital-ski:
      Massively multiplayer: unless you luck out, you’ll be sharing the slopes with hundreds of other players, whom you can interact with via lag-free, proximity-based voice chat. Dull the pain of those unskippable lift sequences by chatting with other players. (ESRB has not rated IRL interactions)
      Full Haptic Feedback: Feel the cold on the breeze, the crunch of the snow, the bark of the tree you just ran into! (Note, safety limiters disabled at all times: use caution)
      Persistent Equipment: purchases can be used at any compatible slope, or sold on several marketplaces. (Steam takes a big cut if you insist on using them for physical goods)
      Seasonal events: Most mountains are shut for maintenance ~60% of the year. Kind of a win for games in that department. On the other hand, said schedule is usually published, and they generally don’t have EA levels of launch day.
      Huge infrastructure costs: Someone had to bring pallets of concrete, Here, aka halfway up a mountain, to build this little cafe to sell you hot-coco at $2 a cup. In terms of man-hours, takes a Lot more to build a ski-lift than it does to model one.
      On-site medical staff: Due to difficulty being locked to “Hardcore”, some players may find themselves in need of medical attention. (May contain microtransactions, or even macrotransactions).

      This is not to say videogames don’t provide anything of value, but the better, & more common comparison is to other forms of media entertainment for a reason. While you can certainly spend thousands of dollars on books/movies (Somebody here introduced me to BOOK*WALKER, and while I’m glad, my wallet is decidedly lighter), it’s a lot less common to spend all that money on One of the items in question, rather than spread among many.

  17. Chad+Miller says:

    Re: modding games to make them more playable, here’s one that’s been making the rounds:


    tl;dr – guy uses a decompiler to discover that GTA V’s startup process includes a comically inefficient JSON (among other things it repeatedly calls strlen on a 10MB string) and ends up being able to trick the game into loading his better-optimized code, dramatically decreasing the loading time

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Awesome! You’d think optimizations like that would be an essential part of the development process, but, it doesn’t take much to accumulate enough complexity to make such introspection very difficult. I wonder if decompiling clears away a lot of that complexity, but you’d be tempted to never do it if you had access to the source code.

  18. evilmrhenry says:

    While you were talking about what company bought Winamp, I popped open the about window in Winamp, and…uh…If you have Winamp, view the credits. It’s very 90s.

    In general, my feelings on Winamp is that the user interface is unchanged since the 90s, and I appreciate that in a piece of software. I’ve never popped open Winamp, been greeted with a “Welcome to the new Winamp!” splash screen, and had to puzzle out a new UI, or found out that a feature I use got simplified out, or found that I need to mess with the options to get it set up the way I want again. This is a piece of software that works, and will continue to work into the foreseeable future.

    (But seriously. If you’re developing a website or software, hire a UX designer, but don’t keep them around. Once you have a decent UI, keeping a full-time UX designer around is just asking for trouble.)

  19. Ninety-Three says:

    Regarding the cancellation of Anthem, reportedly Bioware wanted to throw more resources into it, which was probably what got the plug pulled (“You need 100 people? Last year you said you’d try to make it work with 30, we can’t afford this!”). The whole thing feels like an exercise in ass-covering, a year ago it was clear that Anthem had bombed, but someone didn’t want to admit it (whether to the public or to his boss, it’s not clear) so they cut the game’s staff to a skeleton crew because that’s what you do with a bomb, but came up with this “We’re going to redesign the whole game and somehow make it fun” pitch that was obviously (to me and everyone I talked to, at least) never going to materialize before the plug got pulled.

  20. Nimrandir says:

    As the token console gamer, my PC game lists are pretty short. I can’t pull up the GOGBox right now (it’s in the bedroom, and my wife is asleep), but I don’t think I own more than fifteen games on Steam. The only ones not installed are Thomas Was Alone and . . . er . . . Good Robot.

    My GOG account is heftier, at 61 games (there’s some overlap with Steam from when they matched libraries), but I’ve gotten most of those through free giveaways. Looking through the list, I think the only ones installed are Fallout, Pool of Radiance, and Arcanum. I technically also have Arena on my machine, but I got that from UESP instead of a storefront.

    My Switch has six games installed on it, plus Nintendo’s emulated NES and SNES packages. I’ve really only messed around with Super Metroid and Breath of Fire from those, though. The PS4 has 21 titles installed, with another six uninstalled to make space.

  21. evilmrhenry says:

    As for lesser-known games that have shaped my tastes, that’s going to be whatever came on those Shareware CDs back in the day. The good lesser remembered games are going to be things like the earlier iD sidescrollers like Crystal Caves, the Exile series, Skyroads, roguelikes back when that meant ASCII, God of Thunder, Battles On Distant Planets, VGA Trek, and so on. Even the majority of games that were trash affected my taste. There’s just something about scrolling through a list of hundreds of games, finding something you’ve never tried before, and starting it up just to see what it is. (And immediately getting hit with loud, bad, PC speaker music.)

    Outside of Shareware, I also have a soft spot for Epic Pinball and the 3D Ultra Pinball series. I think it’s unfortunate that most modern pinball games go for a simulation of physical tables instead of going weird. Then there’s Chex Quest, the best thing ever to be included in a box of cereal.

    With regards to MMO quest design reaching into single-player games, I’ll note that this style of design lets you make quests in parallel. If you want 100 hours of play, you can design 1000 6-minute quests that don’t interact with each other, and have a standard design. “Kill X Ys, then come back to get Z gold and W XP” is a very simple quest to design, and once you have one, you can as many as you want. This comes from the same pressures that give you Open World Game: the Open World Game. WoW-style MMOs use this because they need a LOT of content, and that same need for content is also hitting single-player games, as part of them getting more expensive.

  22. Higher Peanut says:

    I used to use Winamp as my music player of choice. It had the sole job of having my entire library in a playlist and playing on shuffle. One day the list became too big and Winamp would crash after a while of playing. Googling for media players that handled large libraries and playlists led me to Foobar, which I’ve had no problems with.

  23. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    The thing about whale is that we have this vision that it’s their own choice to burn all their money on lootboxes. It’s not, not really. For many people uneven gains can addictive, like any physical drug. So just treating loot boxes as a choice and deriding people who loose all their savings in them because they can’t help it is great for the studios but not so much for their victims. And while we’re not entirely sure yet that loot box increase gambling tendencies, we’re about to find out since so many games aimed at kids are choked full of them…

  24. Mr. Wolf says:

    I already knew the answer but I skipped to 19:18 anyway, because it is the most important question.

  25. Gautsu says:

    1 TB hard drive, 4 TB external, according to GoG Galaxy 2.0 622 games (not all installed) but about 4.7 TB full ATM. 72 short cuts to games on my desktop, with folders put aside for what I play primarily on my surface and what I have already beaten but will come back to

  26. Toad says:

    I am the modder Paul mentioned around 40:30 and have a couple quick clarifications.

    First, KSP did have and still has official modding support. They import code from mod DLLs directly and execute it in engine — no sandboxing. The fiddly bits Paul is probably recollecting came when my mod TweakableEverything wanted to do things that Squad had not publicly exposed. Because KSP mods run directly on the engine, modders can use C#’s rather powerful reflection tools to access private methods and fields — effectively rendering moot the whole concept of encapsulation. I used this method to actuate some animations, I think, to allow parts that “open” and “close” to do so in the editor. Squad has since put most of that functionality into the base game.

    The tough part of that is that Squad put their code through an obfuscator before they published it. As a result, all of the inline variables and many of the private fields had unreadable names — mostly using unprintable bytestrings instead of actual ASCII or UTF characters. This puts some things behind a bit of guesswork, which is where Paul heard me complaining about certain challenges.

    For Planet, I used ILSpy or something similar to decompile the .NET assembly. Fun fact about .NET is that all of the .NET languages compile to the same “Intermediate Language” (hence ILSpy) bytecode that is run by the .NET runtime. This means you can decompile the bytecode into any .NET language you want — just in case VB.NET is more your speed than C# (it isn’t — VB is no one’s speed). Because Oskar did not obfuscate his code, this actually resulted in a fully readable, fully compile-able source tree. I already had some save/load code written for my KSP mods, which I stitched in to the Planet code (along with some hotkeys, I think?), recompiled, and swapped in for Oskar’s executable. Worked just fine, and like Paul said, we gave both the source and the recompiled executable back to Oskar. I don’t know if he ever did anything with them, but hey.

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