Diecast #337: Mailbag Delight

By Shamus Posted Monday Mar 22, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 90 comments

Good news for those of you who enjoy my droning voice: I’ll be on the Eh! Steve! Podcast in early April. We might talk about videogames. Or Steve. Not sure. Maybe I should get clarification.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

Show notes:
00:00 I’ll be on the Eh! Steve! Podcast in early April.

Did you hear the rumor? Apparently I’ll be on the Eh! Steve! Podcast in early April.

00:47 Satisfactory Update 4


23:49 Mailbag: Tyranny

Dear Dyecast!

I was wondering if any of you have played Tyranny.
It’s an RPG from Obsidian, cut from the same cloth as Pillars of Eternity, with the twist being,
that the evil Sauron-esque dark lord has already won, and you play as one of his willing, high ranking representatives trying
to maintain his rule through fear, manipulation or careful compromise.

The only real problem I have with the game is the overabundance of rather complex, morally grey conflicts, big and small.
It seems like you can’t even ask for the time in this world without bumping into some multi-faceted-no-right-answer moral quandary.

Have you ever lost interest in a story because it seemed like every situation only presents a lesser of two evils kind of solution?
I remember that being a huge sticking point for Shamus with Game of Thrones.

Thanks for reading and keep on dieing!
…wait, that came out wrong
Keep on Casting!


25:40 Mailbag: Video Game Archeology

Link (YouTube)

Dear Diecast,
I hope this finds you well! This isn’t exactly a question, but it’s a short 10-minute video I think both of you will find interesting – https://youtu.be/gtvQiVeaLqw
It’s about preserving old video games, and hacking old Xbox 360 dev kits, and uncovering early builds and cancelled video games. I don’t really know how to turn this into a question. Maybe: if you had more time, would you be willing to take up this expensive and borderline illegal hobby?
Anyway, take care and Keep Being Awesome,

33:17 Mailbag: Movement Mechanics

Hello Shamus & Paul!

I have noticed people often seem to enjoy movement mechanics in games a lot, but have myself never thought about it much.

“E.Y.E.-Divine Cybermancy” for instance locks these behind progression, but eventually allows the player to do high jumps and to teleport-kill. With others they are integral to the experience. “Bokida – Heartfelt Reunion” takes place in a fairly large map and more or less allows the player to fly around, thus making exploration far less tedious than one might expect. A completely different example would be “Minecraft”, where the player might make his/her own path by tunneling through the ground or by stacking blocks beneath themselves to build something or to get to higher ground.

I was wondering what you two thought about movement mechanics in games as far as you have encountered them. Especially in regards to the way they are implemented and why.



39:02 Mailbag: Ethical Scoops

Dear Diecast

This question was inspired by a Twitter spat between Joseph Anderson and Jason Schrier, do you think it’s “ethical” to leak an upcoming game whose existence hasn’t been revealed yet? Like could the developers of said upcoming game get seriously demoralized when something they poured their passion into gets revealed not how and way before it was initially intended?

From notAnEldenRingdeveloper

43:09 Mailbag: Valheim

Week after week and no mention of Valheim, I’m shocked.
This is like Minecraft in 2010 in multiple ways.
Survival is fun again.
I stay up too late cause I want to see what’s over the next hill, or get the next equipement upgrade or expand my house.
It’s gorgeous in a high tech, low fi way, PS1 textures and geometry with modern lighting.
It’s a YouTube and Steam sensation that has just wiped the floor with an entire genre of games.
And the lil mechanical details are masterful. Chopping trees is dangerous and fun. Smoke fills your house if you don’t have a chimney and the roof falls down if you don’t have supports. Wind direction matters to hunting and sailing. I made a working and useful sundial. Waves.
Why are you not playing it and talking about it?


48:36 Mailbag: Historical RPGs

Dear DieCast,

Why are historical cRPGs so rare?

Personally, I really like the idea of a large, epic, historical RPG, but the market doesn’t seem to share that interest. Why is that? Living through historical events and changing their course sounds pretty sweet (and if fantasy elements are a must, one can simply use myths and believes of that period). Strategy games never had any issues using historical events; RPGs should thrive in such an environment, alas – it’s not happening.
The few games we had were usually set in medieval Europe – like Darklands or Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Why not go somewhere else? It doesn’t have to be an incredibly exotic setting (it seems to me that the only franchise willing to take some risk and set its games in a non-medieval, historical world is, well, Assassin’s Creed – which is an RPG only in a very loose sense of that term. But at this point, I can’t be picky).

Big, epic, historical RPG not set in medieval Europe – do you think there is a place for this type of game on the market?


From The Archives:

90 thoughts on “Diecast #337: Mailbag Delight

  1. Joe says:

    Don’t most games lock movement mechanics behind gameplay? Take Skyrim. If you want the speedy shout, you need to do Bleak Falls Barrow, then either hike up a mountain or over to the appropriate word wall. In Cyberpunk 2077, you need enough money and fame to get the double-jump legs. In Star Wars games, it takes a while to get Force Speed, etc.

    Who benefits by leaking news of a game early? Yeah, you get to be the king of twitter for a day or two. Might even gain a few new followers or viewers of your streams. But you’ve also proved you can’t keep a secret. and made other people’s lives hard in the process. If your government is doing something shady, that’s all right to leak. But entertainment news? I don’t see the point.

    As for Valheim, two of my least favourite game mechanics are crafting and roguelike. I put up with crafting to fuel my adventures, I don’t go adventuring to fuel my crafting. And I’m not skilled enough to enjoy the challenge of roguelikes.

    1. ivan says:

      If your job is to report on entertainment news, or at least your livelihood is heavily tied up in talking about videogames or whatever, I won’t go so far as to say you are obligated to report information you acquire, but you’d be stupid not to.

      I mean, what real reason would you have to not do it? To preserve ‘goodwill’ with a publisher? Cos, they are the ones who set ‘reveal’ schedules, not the developers, the ones slaving away on it to the last minute to meet those schedules.

      Publishers don’t care that you, what, voluntarily didn’t spread around some info that you could have spread around. That isn’t going to get you some insider access with them, or anything. And, if you’re a media personality at all honest and forthright with your opinions, those same publishers won’t talk to you, no matter how many times you decide not to advance your own career, in order to assist them with their manufactured hype cycles.

    2. King Marth says:

      Wizards of the Coast posted an article once “Why Leaks Hurt” on spoilers in the entertainment industry, taking the stance that leaks aren’t journalism because there’s nothing being covered up. The information will be released at a specified time, all you’re doing by releasing it early is stealing intellectual property for the sake of messing with marketing efforts and dividing a fanbase.

      The author was also derided for comparing entertainment spoilers to taking it upon yourself to announce someone else’s pregnancy, but if emotional appeals are your thing, that’s one way to think about it.

      1. Thomas says:

        Magic spoilers are less fun than the reveal event, and even if you avoid seeing them it sort of sucks. I was shocked when they revealed the Phyrexian card on Kaldheim, but no-one in the community was reacting to it because they’d been spoiled much earlier – and even when it was first spoiled apparently a lot of the discussion was just over whether the leak was fake.

        I don’t think I’m ready to fit this into a consistent ethical framework, but I’m much sadder about Magic spoilers than I am about spoilers on the existence of videogames.

        Magic cards are revealed on a reliable schedule in consistently orchestrated events and where the big picture announcements (it’s a Viking set) have been made well ahead of time. With videogames on the other hand it’s often that everyone knows the game exists (Elder Scrolls Y) but the publishers aren’t confirming it because they’re exploiting the PR of fans clamouring for an announcement.

        On the other hand, I’m sure the discussion would have spiralled out of hand still, but I wish the Last of Us 2 controversy had played out _after_ people had played the game instead of before. I’m not saying the conclusions would have been different, but it would have been nice if they had been drawn on the basis of the actual story, instead of someone’s cliff notes of the story.

        1. Geebs says:

          I’m actually quite grateful that TLoU2’s story got leaked. As Penny Arcade rather eloquently put it “I don’t want to kill and dogs with my bare hands today, you know?”. It all seemed rather juvenile, and I’m glad I didn’t waste 40 hours of my life on it.

          1. Thomas says:

            You’d still know about the plot before you need to play the game. You’d just know about it from people who’ve actually played the game rather than people manufacturing outrage for clicks. (Unless you preorder, but don’t preorder).

            It does make a difference. My flatmate managed to avoid spoilers and didn’t think he wanted to continue the game when he got to that point, but he did because he started it and now he’s finished it he’s bugging me to play it because he loved it.

            I’m not saying people wouldn’t still hate it, but it’s more useful to hear that people hate the game from people who have played the game than people who haven’t.

            1. Geebs says:

              Apologies for appearing to shift the goalposts, but this is also something that factored into my thoughts at the time but took a while to percolate back into my consciousness:

              I should probably also have said; I’m also glad that the working conditions at Naughty Dog got leaked at the same time. The game sells itself on having profound insights into human cruelty but – as far as I can tell – doesn’t really go beyond a more Grimdark version of the “he had a family” gags from Austin Powers, real social issues being watered down into the behaviour of ridiculously implausible cults not usually seen outside UbiSoft’s output, and bigot sandwiches. The upper echelons of Naughty Dog clearly enjoyed all of the industry praise for this. Meanwhile they treated their own staff appallingly (what was it, a 70% turnover rate since uncharted 4?). I wouldn’t want to contribute money to that sort of working environment even if they weren’t so rankly hypocritical, and I would find it very difficult to enjoy the game knowing about the conditions under which it was produced.

              Yes, bad workplace practices happen elsewhere, and I know I’m being a hypocrite myself by omission. But at least I can make decisions based on the information I have available; I’m not buying any Rockstar games, either.

      2. Steve C says:

        I’ve read multiple articles like that. They all smack of being written by PR. Intellectually dishonest and tautological self-referencing nonsense. It’s bullshit on so many levels:

        Most journalism is not *investigative* journalism. Most is just reporting publicly known facts. Weather, sports, court results, planning commissions, obituaries, etc. Something being covered up or not is irrelevant to if people should be allowed to know about it or not.

        Releasing information is nothing like infringing intellectual property. The same way that walking by someone’s house is not trespassing. There are legal requirements for infringing and this doesn’t even come close. The fact that something ‘messes with marketing’ is the same as saying ‘we the company want to do this, therefore you should just go along with it’. It’s beside the point. Consider the dystopian world where you are not allowed to ‘mess with marketing’.

        They also want special status. Like a restaurant doesn’t get special secret status before it’s opening day. Nor does a book. Or a movie. It’s basically just software that *demands* this special status. Other companies might want to keep their entry into a market etc hidden for competitive reasons. But they have no right to that secrecy. Nor is it the same thing. Because copyright is a protected monopoly. Software is the *most* protected industry against this sort of thing. Yet it’s not enough for them.

        And comparing it to a pregnancy is just offensive. That’s a *medical* event happening within someone else’s body. No. It’s more akin to hiding a birth. Which is a public known and government tracked fact.

        No. It’s completely tautological:
        SoftCorp: “You shouldn’t do this.”
        Public: “Why?”
        SoftCorp: “Because we don’t want you doing this.”
        Public: “Why?”
        SoftCorp: “Because we don’t like it.”
        Public: “Why?”
        SoftCorp: “Because you shouldn’t do this!!! We already explained it!”

        It is just stupid and self destructive. But I get it. It’s about the individual marketers being able to demonstrate their value. If the serfs and plebs mess with their carefully crafted marketing message, it makes their lives harder.

        1. Steve C says:

          Oh and I disagree with Shamus/Paul. I don’t feel it is anything like gossiping about Brittney Spears. Because people are people. People continue to exist outside of whatever they do. Even if they are a celebrity and who they are and what they do is tied to the “product-ness” of what they are selling.

          A non-human product is a product. It *only* exists to be a product. To say that it exists and the characteristics of it existing is not at all like information about a person.

          1. Shamus says:

            If someone cracked my blog and announced to the world HEY, SHAMUS WRITING A SERIES ON DIAKATANA NEXT I’d be very upset. Yes, the product doesn’t have feelings, but I DO. And when I make a thing, then how I present it to the world is part of the thing. (And part of the reward that comes from making it.)

            My work privacy is an extension of my personal privacy, and that doesn’t change if I team up with other people.

            And the only thing worse than that, is if the leaker has the audacity to pretend that his leaks are part of some “public service”. Like, dude. You’re just trying to make clicks to drive traffic to sell advertising space. You’re not blowing the lid off Watergate. Get over yourself.

            EDIT: I just realized that “hacking my blog” is a real crime and that’s going to confuse the point I’m making. Let’s say they somehow found out about it by (say) going through my trash. It’s legal, but it’s still something I didn’t want revealed to the public.

            1. Steve C says:

              Yes I see how it might make someone upset. Reasonably so. But at the same time… not.

              Lets say someone with allergies moves into an apartment with a No Pet policy. Then another tenant moves in with a pet and they change the policy. Pets are now allowed. It sucks for the person with allergies. It is reasonable they be angry about the whole thing. Betrayed even. But have they been wronged? I would argue, no. It’s just people with conflicting desires.

              My work privacy is an extension of my personal privacy, and that doesn’t change if I team up with other people.

              I disagree with both parts of that statement. I don’t believe that work privacy (what happens at work) is an extension of personal privacy. They are very different things. In many situations work privacy is strictly forbidden. It *must* be public information. (One of the reasons why permits are applications is to give the public an opportunity to challenge or stop them.) While personal privacy has the opposite kinds of laws where it is illegal to share certain types of information. Society has approached privacy in the personal space vs work space very differently.

              And I disagree with the second part of that. It *does* change if someone teams up with other people. Because the person violating your privacy/trust isn’t the reporter or other third party in that situation. It’s the coworker. And that coworker might have very different ideas about what is reasonable to share or not. Importantly, that coworker’s desire for more sharing is not less valid than the one who wants more privacy. Therefore once in a group, it can never be the same level of privacy as the most restrictive member. It must be the level of the least restrictive member.

              Since I’m sure someone will mention NDAs etc, that is a breach that’s wronged the group. If someone chooses to break an NDA for legal or illegal reasons then that’s on them. Not the person they are sharing that privileged information with. The rest of the group has a very legitimate reason to be angry about it. But that anger should be directed at the person who broke their trust, not at the 3rd party who had a completely different set of goals and no obligations at all to that group. I agree that claims “for the public good” are dickish and insincere. But the reverse where it is against the public good and therefore not allowed? No. That would be worse.

              In the specific case of you working alone and someone going through the trash to learn about the series of Diakatana, then that’s on you to take all the extra steps like shredding the trash to make sure that doesn’t happen. Sure it sucks. It is right to resent it. But it is still ultimately on your own head if that’s something important to you. For other people it would be an Old Man Yells At Cloud moment.

              Seems harsh, yet you might be surprised how much I sympathize. I strongly believe in privacy. I find putting personal info up on social media very creepy and weird. Top of the list includes professional stuff like LinkedIn. That kind of privacy is important to me. Therefore I don’t participate in any of that. Me prioritizing privacy that way has real direct consequences and costs on me. However I recognize I just have to bite the bullet. It makes me angry and upset. Reasonably so. But at the same time… not.

              1. tmtvl says:

                Er, IANAL so take this with a barrel of salt, but if someone with allergies rents a place with strict no pets rule and the rule gets changed and someone with a pet moves in I do think they would have a claim in civil court.

                It’s like with every food package under the sun stating that the processing plant also handles nuts and peanuts (which are legumes, BTW).

                1. Steve C says:

                  I used the pet example because that exact scenario happened to Shamus. I figured the blog readers would be familiar with it.
                  People saying a pet issue like that wouldn’t happen that way… well it *did* happen that way.

              2. Retsam says:

                And that coworker might have very different ideas about what is reasonable to share or not. Importantly, that coworker’s desire for more sharing is not less valid than the one who wants more privacy. Therefore once in a group, it can never be the same level of privacy as the most restrictive member. It must be the level of the least restrictive member.

                But I can just reverse all the words in these sentences and argue the exact opposite point:

                And that coworker might have very different ideas about what is reasonable to share or not. Importantly, that coworker’s desire for more privacy is not less valid than the one who wants more sharing. Therefore once in a group, it can never be the same level of privacy as the least restrictive member. It must be the level of the most restrictive member.

                No actual argument is being made in favor of your point, its just personal belief that “the right to share” trumps “the right to privacy” in a work setting. But is there any basis for that belief?

                In the specific case of you working alone and someone going through the trash to learn about the series of Diakatana, then that’s on you to take all the extra steps like shredding the trash to make sure that doesn’t happen. Sure it sucks. It is right to resent it. But it is still ultimately on your own head if that’s something important to you. For other people it would be an Old Man Yells At Cloud moment.

                “Bad thing happened to you, and that sucks but it’s ultimately your fault for not preventing that bad thing from happening to you, [and nobody else cares]” (Last parts in brackets because that’s how I interpret the “Old Man Yells at Cloud” comment, but I’m not sure)

                I find this sort of argument baffling. Like, is this one of those “I recognize this behavior hurts people, but as long as it’s within their legal right to do so, nobody should criticize them for it?” kind of arguments, that ignores that there’s a huge gap between “what’s legally allowed” and “what’s generally considered by most people to be reasonable human behavior”, and when debating the ethics of a point, most people are talking about the second, not the first?

                1. Steve C says:

                  its just personal belief that “the right to share” trumps “the right to privacy” in a work setting. But is there any basis for that belief?

                  I believe my other posts here a few minutes before this one addresses this. (I would not call it a “right to share”.) I did not make that argument because I felt it was self evident. However here is a small list: Government inspections. Legal discovery. Audits. Permits. Unions. Public health and safety. Working conditions. Human rights violations. HR complaints. Other contracts and deals.
                  For a specific example– payment and compensation. Companies often have tried to keep employees from speaking to each other about salaries and wages. To keep that information secret. But they can’t. That is prohibited. So many things are like that in the workplace.

                  There is a near endless number of ways of information at work to become a publicly known fact.
                  Now for the second section:

                  Is it reasonable and ethical for a employee to document their working conditions?
                  If the answer to that question is “yes” at any point in time, for any reason, then it is automatically going to be in a situation of winners and losers. It’s completely irrelevant who is in the right or wrong in such situations– the privacy is still gone.

                  The leak isn’t necessarily going to be someone with an NDA who is deep into a project. It’s going to be someone who sees a spec manual because they are working at the printers filling up ink. And they are going to take photos of it because they have both legal and ethical justification to take photos of their workplace. The people in the heart of a project are vastly numbered by all the people who interact with it on the edges. Therefore the leak is likely going to be someone on the periphery of the project just from the relative numbers of the groups. It’s going to be a product shipped to wrong address. Someone translating labels. A PCB manufacturer sub-contractor that realizes what 3 components together do. A visitor to a supplier in China who is ensuring ethical standards are being kept who realizes that what they are making that day is body of the brand new PS6.

                  The problem I’m seeing in this discussion is that there is an implicit assumption of a ‘bad guy’. Some Deep Throat who is spilling secrets they shouldn’t. Except reality isn’t like that. That’s a false assumption. *Most* of the time people talking to each other have an ethical reason to speak. Because it is generally considered by most people to be UNreasonable human behavior to prevent people from communicating with each other. Preventing people from communicating with each other is the exception, not the rule. (I thought this was self evident. It’s why I did not think I needed to to explain it before.)

                  The *behavior* of all parties can be completely ethical. The *result* of that behavior can still hurt people. Don’t equate the two. There does not have to be wrongdoer for someone to get hurt. They can just get hurt. And this next part is the important part… you have to assume there is no wrongdoing when making policies or judgement calls like these. If you don’t, you will have unintended consequences and undo burdens on all the people who did no wrong. The actual wrongdoers will have already broken some other law or ethical taboo.

                  As angry as you might be that your super-secret information that “Shoot Guy” is coming on out the 23rd, and that info being public knowledge will (somehow) destroy the company. None of that matters to society at large. It’s not possible to protect your company’s right to privacy in a way that doesn’t destroy a thousand other rights of others. So yes, “Bad thing happened to you, and that sucks but it’s ultimately your fault for not preventing that bad thing from happening to you, [and nobody else cares]”

                  TL:DR: It is unethical to kill the guy fixing the photocopier. So what you going to do when he sees something? — Nothing. Suck it up.

                  1. Steve C says:

                    Here is a recent real world example that has not been solved yet:

                    1. Individuals have a right to privacy in their homes. No taking photos inside someone’s home.
                    2. Workers have a right to safety in their workplace. No preventing someone from documenting unsafe work conditions.
                    3. In some jurisdictions internet hookup cannot be refused by the ISP as it has been deemed an essential service.

                    These are all ethical and reasonable for all groups. Now consider someone installing internet into a disgusting hoarder’s home. Or is the truth that the employee is really an unreasonable germophobe? Just try to come up with a privacy policy that is fair to all these parties all the time. Regardless of circumstances.

                    The utility must provide service. The worker must be allowed to take photos of their workplace. The resident must have their privacy respected. Nobody is in the wrong here. Everyone is acting ethically and reasonably. It is still a conflict with a mutually exclusive result. It’s a privacy issue where everyone is right. There is no bad actor. It doesn’t matter what the result is. Someone is still going to lose. And it is going to suck to be them.

              3. Ninety-Three says:

                Since I’m sure someone will mention NDAs etc, that is a breach that’s wronged the group. If someone chooses to break an NDA for legal or illegal reasons then that’s on them. Not the person they are sharing that privileged information with. The rest of the group has a very legitimate reason to be angry about it. But that anger should be directed at the person who broke their trust, not at the 3rd party who had a completely different set of goals and no obligations at all to that group.

                If Alice breaks into my house, steals all my stuff and sells it to Bob, a man known to buy goods without asking where they came from, I’m going to be at least a little mad with Bob even though he had different goals and no particular obligations to me. Not only is he benefiting from my misfortune, he’s incentivizing it. If Alice didn’t have an easy way to cash in my stuff, she wouldn’t have been so eager to rob me.

                It’s important to understand that calling Bob scum will not make him stop encouraging people to wrong each other, but he is still scum.

                1. Steve C says:

                  Stealing is not the same. At all. It’s not a relevant comparison.

                  There can be legitimate reasons for ‘secret’ work information to be shared. It’s why I included the phrase “for legal or illegal reasons.” For example a common situation in a software company is that it is being sold or shopped around. Potential buyers need to know what they are buying. If it was truly critically important that someone’s work privacy be respected, then that can be worked into contracts as terms, penalties and compensation. Then THAT can be worked into other deals.

                  If a 3rd or 4th party then finds out that information, then at every point the information was legitimately acquired. Someone who wanted to keep it private still lost out. They did not get the outcome they wanted. Nobody wronged them though. There is no “scum” in this scenario. It’s just something that sometimes happens.

                  Or it can be a case of talking to relevant suppliers, contractors etc and putting 2+2 together and getting 4. Like Nintendo shopping around for a whole bunch of computer parts and people figuring out what the new ‘secret’ console is going to have for specs and looks. Because someone putting plastic into a mold on an assembly line wasn’t gagged and blinded while they were stamping logos.

                  “Breaking trust” is not at all the same as stealing. It can be as simple as trusting someone to represent your interests and they don’t do a good enough job according to your own personal standards.

              4. Shufflecat says:

                Lets say someone with allergies moves into an apartment with a No Pet policy. Then another tenant moves in with a pet and they change the policy. Pets are now allowed. It sucks for the person with allergies. It is reasonable they be angry about the whole thing. Betrayed even. But have they been wronged? I would argue, no. It’s just people with conflicting desires.

                In this scenario they have most definitely been wronged. The landlord had an existing agreement with them, one which the landlord deliberately, explicitly solicited by setting a “no pets” policy to begin with. The landlord then deliberately violated that agreement. This would be either a bait-and-switch, or a breach of contract situation, depending on the rental contract (and morally both, even if not legally), not “just a case of people with conflicting desires”.

                The person who moved in with a pet despite the “no pets” policy also made a choice to knowingly and willingly enter into an agreement they had no intention of upholding.

                Both the landlord and the pet-owning tenant are acting in clear bad faith here. The “no-pets” tenant is the only one actually using the agreement in good faith, and is absolutely the victim in this scenario.

                If the tenant in question is forced to incur the cost of a move by this, or worst case, cannot find other no-pets housing in their price range, that can have major consequences. Consequences which are entirely at the feet of the landlord for violating expectations they explicitly and willingly established as part of the basis for why someone would want to rent from them. It would not surprise me in the slightest if there are laws specifically to prevent/punish this sort of thing.

            2. Fizban says:

              Let’s say they somehow found out about it by (say) going through my trash. It’s legal, but it’s still something I didn’t want revealed to the public.,

              Uh, pretty sure going through someone’s trash is also illegal- trespassing and theft for starters. Maybe, “overhearing a phone conversation”? Not that it makes a difference to the above argument.

              1. Syal says:

                Uh, pretty sure going through someone’s trash is also illegal- trespassing and theft for starters.

                If it’s on the street for pickup, it’s public property. Worst it would be is littering if they knocked it over.

    3. Dotec says:

      When it comes to picking sides in the Devs vs Journalists saga, I’ve come to the opinion that neither side is worth “picking”, and we as consumers should just Let Them Fight.

      The devs and the publishers have incentives to maintain secrecy and privacy. The journalist has incentives to breach them and inform the public. Publisher then has incentive to ‘blacklist’ the journo because there is no obligation to willingly shove your head into a box of razorwire in order to appease their sensibilities. Journalist then has incentive to criticize their blacklisting as ‘anti-consumer’ or something else, although the merits of this argument usually vary wildly.

      I don’t care and see no reason to, for the most part. Devs gonna call journos press sneak fucks, and journos gonna journo. Any disdain generated between the two is completely natural and understandable, despite them ostensibly ‘needing’ each other (although I’d argue games journalism needs the industry more than the other way around). The ethics of leaking and snitching here are just so uninteresting. They owe each other nothing.

  2. MerryWeathers says:

    While I’m not planning on playing Valheim since it’s still in early access, I’m curious to know what makes the game more appealing and noteworthy than your average survival game which it looks to be from the footage I have seen.

    1. Geebs says:

      Yeah, I get a bit put off by all the “it’s great, I already spent 200 hours building a hut” buzz.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Nowadays, I try to play more games like Firewatch, Gone Home, or even Overland[1], that can be completed in a weekend or less. I’m way too old to put up with games wasting my time nowadays. :)

        [1] OK, this one actually took me about a month because of the difficulty, but the last time I played it to get a look at more easter-eggs, it only took me a single evening. (Also, they’d added different difficulty settings in that time. :)

      2. Gordon says:

        You don’t spend 200 hours building a hut. Given an axe and a bunch of trees you can build a perfectly good hut, in a few minutes. I’m not even sure off the top of my head how many I have scattered around the place.

        This for example is a huge house for a solo player, looking at it I think I could put that together in maybe 20 hours, but I really have no use for that much space. https://www.reddit.com/r/ValheimBuilds/comments/ma0q91/my_solo_base_without_any_cheats_or_exploits/

        Likewise you see Mineraft builds that are thousands of hours, but that’s definitely not core gameplay.

        Also usually when they say 200hours they will mean they are 200hours into the game, not 200hours on one particular house.

        1. Geebs says:

          Sure, I was exaggerating for comic effect a bit there. It’s obvious that you really like the game and being genuinely enthusiastic about something, and then having everybody pile on without even trying it, sucks. So, I apologise for contributing to that.

          I do think, though, that it’s still not really clear how Valheim is different from all of the other “survival builder” games out there from the perspective of somebody who has tried a couple and finds them to be time sinks.

          1. Gordon says:

            If this were reddit I’d give you a gold for being a nice person.

    2. Fizban says:

      Same. If I’m going to spend 200 hours building something, it had better be goddamn magnificent. I only played 95 hours of Satisfactory. 83 hours for a run and a half of Subnautica. I only have 200 hours or so in each Dark Souls. I only have 380 hours in freaking Skyrim.

      I am highly skeptical that a generic-looking multiplayer survival craft is going to be as immersive as Skyrim, have combat as satisfying as Dark Souls, a world as fresh and exciting as Subnautica, or make me actually care to build things like Satisfactory. I’ve been happy to hear people gushing over Tarkov, not my thing but I can see how it’s theirs- but Valheim? I suppose I might be more interested than Minecraft at least.

      1. Retsam says:

        I am highly skeptical that a generic-looking multiplayer survival craft is going to be as immersive as Skyrim, have combat as satisfying as Dark Souls, a world as fresh and exciting as Subnautica, or make me actually care to build things like Satisfactory.

        If you’re expecting it to be better than any of these other games at what they do best, it’s not going to measure up. But for a lot of people “a little bit of Minecraft, mixed with a little bit of Skyrim, mixed with a little bit of Subnautica, and a little bit of Dark Souls, and also multiplayer” is a pretty appealing concept, even if individually each aspect is weaker than the corresponding game you’re comparing it to.

        That’s kind of the Minecraft appeal, too. Minecraft isn’t the best combat game, isn’t the best crafting game, isn’t the best exploration game, isn’t the best RPG, and probably isn’t the best creative construction sandbox, but it’s an appealing mix of all of those. Valheim is essentially the same, but just with a differently balanced mix of similar ingredience.

    3. Gordon says:

      A lot of the grind is gone, particularly the grind to maintain your current level.

      Repairing equipment is free, so something like mining is only done for upgrades / extending the house.

      Food increases max and regen for stamina and health, but if you are house building you can ignore it entirely. Also it stores indefinitely, so there’s no worry about the food you worked to get rotting away etc.

      Teleporting (for the player but not for mass resources) comes fairly early in the game.

      etc etc

      The grind there is is often much more fun as well, tree chopping in this is sooo much better than Minecraft, it’s full of micro decisions, ditto for sailing for example.

      There’s a great balance of enough realism to make stuff interesting but not enough to make it a chore.

      1. Gordon says:

        I don’t know where punishing came from, I’m playing solo and killed the first two bosses on my first attempt and I’m a real wimp it took a long long time before I stopped running away from creepers in Minecraft.

    4. Retsam says:

      I think it’s that it hits a very good balance between “simple” and “interesting” giving it a very wide-appeal, especially for multiplayer.

      Like, as someone who’s “into” crafting games, I’m going to find something like the Sevtech: Ages Minecraft pack more interesting (e.g. I literally just paused SevTech:Ages to write this comment) – but getting a friend to play SevTech with me is a huge ask. And even base Minecraft is surprisingly complicated in some ways. Whereas Valheim is pretty easy to get going with, but still interesting enough for more “advanced” players.

      Like the building system is a good example where it’s a good balance between something like Subnautica where you’re basically just snapping together prefabricated parts, and something like Minecraft where you (somewhat laboriously) build the entire hut brick-by-brick. I can pretty quickly throw up a hut in Valheim: “wall, wall, wall, wall, roof, roof, door, done”, but it’s still flexible enough that I can actually feel like I’m making something unique to me, and the need for ventilation for smoke and supports for the roof makes it a bit more interesting than a purely creative endeavor.

      1. Retsam says:

        Also, I think it helps that it’s a survival/crafting game with a solid RPG progression loop: go to new area, gather stuff/gain stats/upgrade equipment, fight boss, repeat.

        That’s probably why “Minecraft/Skyrim Hybrid” is such a common description, as Minecraft is the quintessential survival/crafting game and Skyrim is a classic RPG sandbox game with similar aesthetics. (Though even Skyrim doesn’t really have that sort of progression, as it’s more “do a bunch of random quests” rather than gearing up to fight a particular boss)

    5. Orophor says:

      As someone who played and liked Valheim and Subnautica but passed on Rust, Conan Exiles, and Ark, I can say what kept me in both games was a total absence of forced PVP. Subnautica is strictly PVE single-player, and Valheim is either single-player or multi-player co-op up to 10 players, with PVP being consensual. Also both games have interesting stories and settings.

      I like in Valheim how as a petitioner of Odin, you are already a warrior slain in battle who’s afterlife is to be sent here to tame this wild land and re-imprison the five (so far) bosses who are ancient foes of Asgard. It gives you a good reason for starting with nothing (you are a soul in a new realm) and why you can die in battle and wake up in your bed (like any good viking slain in battle you rise with the dawn, born anew). You can go ham and do crazy Minecraft-like projects such as this build of Notre Dame cathedral. You don’t actually need to grind that much to progress the tech tree (Stone/Bronze/Iron/Black Iron aka Steel) and move on to the next boss. Even the 4th boss Modor is doable solo, though it is a lot easier to get the needed dragon eggs if you have three vikings so you don’t need to make two or three trips to get them all to the altar. The fact it is in early access with a small indie team does make me wonder how well they will realize their vision and how well that keeps the millions of new players happy, but for me it’s already better looking and more fun than Minecraft.

  3. Ninety-Three says:

    Regarding scoops, the main issue isn’t demoralizing devs but messing with the game’s release plans. The marketing department carefully plans what information they’re going to release when because they think that’s the best way to sell the game. Marketing’s not guaranteed to be right about exactly when builds the most hype, but their their guess is more likely right than Jason Schreier’s random leak date. So this is scummier than the paparazzi because at least hiding in the bushes outside a celebrity’s house doesn’t cause anything more than an icky feeling, Schreier is actually costing the studios sales.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Paparazzi aren’t the neighborhood perv; They get photos so that they can be released, not for their own personal use.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        I don’t see what you’re getting at here, does releasing those photos do any damage? Are the sales of the next album going to be impacted by the release of some “Britney gained five pounds” tabloid photo? My point is that the paparazzi make people feel vaguely icky while Jason Schreier leaks actually hurt livelihoods.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          I would say constantly breaching someone’s privacy, scrutinizing, and judging their every personal move to the point that they have to go into hiding all because they’re famous and just for cash is way worse and scummier than getting a company to lose some revenue. It’s not “feeling vaguely icky”, it’s straight up reprehensible.

          1. Thomas says:

            Yes, paparazzi ruin individual lives in specific ways, instead of the general way of affecting some companies bottom line.

    2. Freddo says:

      Assuming the information is obtained in an honest way, for example by overhearing a conversation in an otherwise public settings such as a developer conference, or through an employee accidentally mentioning something on social media, I see no issues with publishing said information. Of course the marketing department would prefer to carefully manage the information flow, including not mentioning how many features were cut between their first news release and the final cut, or how many bugs are left in the game on publishing.

      I have been burned sufficient times by underwhelming, buggy releases that any suggestion of some honor code will be subjected to ridicule. And you can immediately extend that to game journalism that is too eager to bow to publisher wishes due to being too dependent on advertising revenue or developer access.

  4. MerryWeathers says:

    The only real problem I have with the game is the overabundance of rather complex, morally grey conflicts, big and small.
    It seems like you can’t even ask for the time in this world without bumping into some multi-faceted-no-right-answer moral quandary.

    Pretty sure that was the appeal and hook of the game, it’s like trying to get into ASOIAF while complaining about all the darkness and character deaths. You got to know what you’re getting into before trying something out.

  5. John says:

    I think that “running a shop that sells stuff to RPG-type adventurers” is almost a genre these days. Just off the top of my head there’s Reccetear and Moonlighter, though these games also involve some dungeon-delving on the player’s part as well. A quick internet search suggests something called Shoppe Keep and if I could just figure out the right key words to feed to Google I’m sure I could find more. (I keep getting results related to running actual, real-life gaming stores instead.) My guess is that there are probably a lot of these kinds of games for mobile devices.

    1. Retsam says:

      I dunno, for how popular Recettear was, I’m surprised it didn’t spawn more imitators. Moonlighter is the only one I can come up with, despite it being almost a decade later.

      Incidentally, I was a fair bit disappointed by Moonlighter. I played it on the Xbox Game Pass for a good number of hours, but it really just seemed like a worse version of Recettear – neither the dungeoning nor the shopkeeping was as interesting as Recettear, and the unique charm of Recettear has been replaced with bog standard “pixel graphics”.

      If I’m being a little unfair, it seems like the only “killer feature” of Moonlighter is “appeals to people too embarrassed to play a game with a cute anime girl protagonist”; and maybe Moonlighter isn’t inspired by Recettear at all, the creator just happened to have the same idea and not realize that someone had already made that game, but better.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I played Moonlighter hoping to find what I was looking for, but there was too much dungeon crawling, and the combat mechanics didn’t unfold enough as you played to keep interest. All that happened was the damage numbers got bigger, which isn’t an interesting development.

        I don’t know about Recettear’s combat mechanics, but the premise of dungeon crawling and then selling your loot seems the same. I’m looking for that, but without the dungeon crawling part.

        1. tmtvl says:

          You could play Recettear as just a resaler, but it would make things a lot harder as dungeon delving gets you goods to sell, ingredients for crafting really good stuff, and requirements for gaining more potential customers.

      2. Syal says:

        maybe Moonlighter isn’t inspired by Recettear at all, the creator just happened to have the same idea

        Obligatory mention of Dragon Quest 4 on the NES; Taloon’s story in Chapter 3 is all about a shopkeep trying to make enough money to buy a better shop, and eventually build a path to the larger continent. It’s very limited, but you’re running a shop and hiring guards to go equipment-hunting.

      3. Fizban says:

        I’d always assumed Recettear would be fairly simplistic, based on the other games it was bundled with at the time: Fortune Summoners, which I quite enjoyed and beat in spite of what I’d call a terrible control scheme, and Chantelise, which I quite enjoyed but took a break from and never came back to. And since I wasn’t too into the idea of being a merchant anyway, I’d skipped it. If it’s actually top of the genre, well I’ll keep that in mind I guess.

        Though, could it be that the Atelier series just crushed it? I don’t think you do much merchanting in them, but they are the giant monolith of cute anime girls grinding dungeons to craft stuff, so too big to compete with?

        1. Syal says:

          Recettear is both simplistic and top of the genre; “be the shopkeep” has very little competition. Time moves like Persona games; you get four periods in a day, normal activities take up one, dungeons take up three. Dungeons are one-character, two-attacks affairs, with the main prize being unlocking new customers for the store; most of your sales product come from the wholesalers around town. There’s some fluctuation in prices; items will become in demand for a while, or be reduced value; sell too much of one thing and you’ll crash the market for it. People will order specific types of goods and you have to put the order together in a way they can afford to buy. There’s sales combos and some unintuitive gameplay mechanics around building up customers’ funds so they can buy more expensive stuff in the future. Rent payment time limits keep things tense. Characters are tongue-in-cheek stereotypes for the most part.

          I’ve only played Atelier Sophie in the Atelier series, and didn’t like it much. Having time move every time you collect something in the field is incredibly stressful, even without actual time limits. Also Sophie’s characters were just drab, and the models were uncomfortably greasy-looking. Apparently Ryza is better, and maybe an Atelier game with the full time limit would be more fun. But I really liked Recettear and really didn’t like Atelier Sophie.

          There should definitely be room for more Recettear-type games, but as far as I’ve heard the only ones to attempt it are moving backward not forward.

          EDIT: Oh right, and every sale is haggling. Items have their wholesale price but no fixed retail price, you tell them at the counter and can mix it up as you please.

          1. Retsam says:

            Yeah, basically the same experience: really like Recettear, played Sophie, didn’t really care for it. I didn’t dislike it, but it hasn’t left much impression on me, either. Mana Khemia, in the same overall series, was good, but more on the strength of just being a really solid RPG.

            I’m sure a diehard Atelier fan is going to see Recettear as just an inferior version, but as someone who isn’t much of one, I think Recettear is just a lot more streamlined, while Atelier Sophie just had a lot of extraneous stuff. I get the itch to play Recettear from time to time, the same isn’t true of Atelier Sophie.

  6. Lino says:

    I’m very glad you liked the video! It’s definitely a topic that deserves more attention.

    Regarding Tyranny, I gave up about half-way through. What I didn’t like about it was the overly big scope of events that was in no way reflected in what you see on-screen. E.g. early on, before one of your BIG IMPORTANT CHOICES, you’re told by several characters that there’s going to be a huge showdown in the fortress you’re about to go to.

    You’re told that by several characters. It’s going to be big. Important. Epic. A huge battle between several factions. Big stuff. You’ll have to make a choice!!! Really important.

    Well, you get there, and the huge battle is… Five guys. Literally! All that hype, and you’re met with nothing! The game doesn’t even hint that there is more to this battle, and you’re just seeing a tiny part of it. For all you know, that’s all there is!

    And the game’s full of stuff like that. You get hyped up about some big event, and it turns out to be the very definition of anticlimactic. And that even extended to the areas I saw. They’re disgned in such a way, that at no point did I feel like there was something more to them. All of them felt small, utilitarian, and un-lived in.

    I also wasn’t crazy about how the game kept showering me with skills and spells for my party. I never even used most of them, because I found the fights to be extremely easy. Maybe it gets harder later on. But I just didn’t have the drive to see it through…

    1. ivan says:

      That reminds me of my feeling regarding Skyrim, and the Civil War in particular. 5 guys does not an epic battle make.

  7. Zgred77 says:

    Hi, thank you for answering my question (that’s the last one).
    I think there might be a slight case of miscommunication due to my chaotic writing. I wasn’t against fantasy elements – instead, I wanted them to be based on “local” folklore, the mythology of that time period. This can actually enhance the experience of the game greatly, presenting the world inhabited by what people thought to be real. It’s a great way to show those people’s culture, experiencing the way they – in that time – believed the world really is.

    It doesn’t have to be mundane; e.g. game set in Ancient Greece can have our character to be one of the heroes participating in, say, the Iliad. Having supernatural abilities, communicating with the gods etc. Exploring myths, legends and poems of certain culture and time period – through modern lenses.

    For example: Darklands had a Dragon – albeit a very rare thing to find – because it was present in the folklore of that time. It had witches, physical devil and magic system that was based on the communion of saints (the effectivnes of prayers was based on player’s stats) and alchemy. I think it even had Holy Grail, though I might be wrong about that. But it didn’t have elves, dwarves, wizards with pointy hats and was still set in a historical setting – Holy Roman Empire to be more precise. The way common folks believed it to be (or rather how we think about them today).

    So, Sekiro was a pretty good example: modern take on feudal Japan with its mythology. Imagine something between Sekiro and Ghost Of Tsushima – that’s what I was thinking.

    Although I don’t mind having a setting devoided of such elements, focusing of hardcore realism instead. Both approaches are fine by me.

    1. tmtvl says:

      That is something that Pillars of Eternity 2 did quite well, with its intermingling of elements from Middle Renaissance/Age of Sail England and Polynesia.

      Come to think of it, an RPG with well-researched Micronesian mythology (with the ocean being as vast and infinite as the universe itself) would be wonderful.

    2. Rho says:

      This is why I greatly enjoyed KC:D – it’s a painting of how a certain people at a certain time lived and conceived of their world, with all that’s good and bad in it. That’s just not something you can really do in a true fantasy game.

      One thing that Shamus said does bother me: On the show, he stated that we all sort of know history already. Most people’s views of history are… simplified. Real history is often fascinatingly intricate, filled with variety and disorder, and doesn’t have to “make sense” in the way that purely fictional constructs do. In fiction, people exist for the sake of the story and they cease to be when their role is done. We joke (rightly) about how the Creed series has the player characters meeting all kinds of wacky historical figures, but at least it does show the strange connectivity of the real life.

      1. Thomas says:

        I’m British and everything on the Crown is essentially a plot twist as far as I know what happens (although I think this Di girl is in for a bad time).

        The idea of learning some history through some fiction sounds like an opportunity for me.

      2. Syal says:

        Real history… doesn’t have to “make sense” in the way that purely fictional constructs do.

        Until you use it as your base for a fictional construct, at which point it absolutely does.

        Historical games run into the same problem as prequels; the audience already knows how everything turns out, so tension is reduced out the gate; you know Napoleon makes it out of here alive, because they’re in future stories. Historical fiction runs into the additional problem that history is a fixed thing that history nerds will expect you to have researched and adhered to, while to non-history nerds it’s indistinguishable from fiction either way.

        But if you adhere too closely… why not just read the book, or watch the movie, instead of playing the interactive game*?So you’re going to want to add fictional characters, to create enemies that can actually be beaten. Or you’re going to want to let the play rewrite certain events. But now you have to be good enough to fit your fiction into fact without it seeming horribly out of place, and if you’re good enough at writing to pull that off, why not replace the whole setting with one that better serves the story?

        History is all downside, I’m saying is the reason.

        *(Which they’ve already done, that’s how they became history nerds.)

        1. Zgred77 says:

          Historical games run into the same problem as prequels; the audience already knows how everything turns out, so tension is reduced out the gate; you know Napoleon makes it out of here alive, because they’re in future stories.

          Well, can’t agree with that. The tension might arise not from the fate of Napoleon, but from others, new characters. And you can play to the same strengths that prequels have: the knowledge of the outcome of certain events might be a great narrative tool if done right.

          Sticking to Napoleon as a example: imagine a game when you’re playing a veteran of Napoleonic Wars. You and your trusted companion, let’s call him Georges, been with Napoleon since the beggining. You’ve been in Egypt, you’ve been at Austerlitz, and now you are going to go to Russia. Sure, you, as the player, know how it will end, but do you know what will happen to Georges? Or you for that matter? It’s a great way to increase the tension and anxiety of future events. Done right, that determinism can be a powerful device. If I’d care about Georges, I’d be freaking out right now.

          problem that history is a fixed thing that history nerds will expect you to have researched and adhered to, while to non-history nerds it’s indistinguishable from fiction either way.

          I think that dichotomy is a false one. It seems to me that you basically seperated everyone into one of two groups: the ones that know everything and the ones that don’t know a thing. But in reallity, majority of people know… something, but not much. That kind of games could be use to learn something new. Also, realistically, those “historical nerds” would be in such a minority, that, from a business perspective, you probably shouln’t be even thinking about them. Not to mention, I don’t think every single one of them would be upset about fictional elements. They may enjoy the possibility to experience what they already knew in a different light.

          But if you adhere too closely… why not just read the book, or watch the movie, instead of playing the interactive game*?

          Because it’s a different medium with different ways of communications. As you mentioned, video games offer interactivity. The way they are doing this, that’s something that no other medium can really do. Being able to participate in certain events would provided you with a unique perspective, much different than more passive versions of books and movies (which are, on the other hand, much more precise). Interactive historical game has its own downsizes to be sure and it’s definitely not an easy thing to pull off, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying. After all, games like Kingdom Come: Deliverance or Ghost Of Tsushima managed to achieve some pretty big successes. I think the audience is there.

          I don’t know if you’re familiar with the game named “We. The Revolution”. You’re playing as a judge during the French Revolution. The goal was to make player feel the revolutionary fever and how it impacted judge’s life, which was very much at stake (the ending of this game was really bad though, but that’s a different matter). And as you kept playing, you could feel how quickly events were spiralling out of control and how dangerous every decision could end up being. That’s a different emotion than the one I could have while reading about it. So that would be a good example of a historical game done right.

          1. Rho says:

            Likewise, take the “Creed” series. The major events are already known, but there’s a great many worthwhile events that happens anyway. And most of history is not known in intricate detail: quite often we can only make guesses about what happened to whom and when or how.

            Moreover, think of all the opportunities we have to look at the small-scale that once would have been impossible. With admittedly a great deal of work, designers can place the player into Rome or Tenochtitlan in different way than books or movies.

          2. Syal says:

            It seems to me that you basically separated everyone into one of two groups: the ones that know everything and the ones that don’t know a thing.

            For any piece of historical trivia, you either know it or you don’t. You either know the Russia campaign happened or you don’t; you know Napoleon was defeated or you don’t. You know who Napoleon’s second-in-command was, or you don’t. You know what provisions they took, or you don’t. And if you don’t, do you trust the information the game is giving you? If I say Napoleon’s second-in-command was injured in Russia but survived, is that history, or is that a narrative fiction to build tension*? If I say an assassin broke into the Vatican and had a fistfight with the Pope, how trustworthy is that?

            I’ve seen people play We, The Revolution, and what I saw looked really interesting, but I don’t trust any of the information it provides, especially since the judge can declare whether the various characters live or die. As far as I’m aware it’s pure fiction. I’ve seen barely any of Tyranny, but it sounds like it strikes the same chord in a completely fictional setting.

            *(I made this up. Then Wikipedia said it was true.)

        2. Joshua says:

          History is all downside, I’m saying is the reason.

          This reminds me of the time I made a point to read The Man in the Iron Mask (despite being a specific part of pop culture, it’s actually only part of the much larger work The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later).

          It appears that a number of plot points were inspired by some real-world historical events (include the rise and fall of Nicolas Fouquet), and as a result is one of the most depressing Shoot the Shaggy Dog stories I’ve ever read. There’s no wonder that almost every adaptation takes the stance of “Let’s take this story, but make it pleasant to watch”.

    3. Philadelphus says:

      It doesn’t have to be mundane; e.g. game set in Ancient Greece can have our character to be one of the heroes participating in, say, the Iliad.

      That…is an interesting point. Why aren’t there any games set in the Illiad? (Or maybe the Odyssey, that might make a better single-player RPG.)

      1. Lino says:

        Back when people were making God of War clones, there was an action RPG thingy based on Jason and the Argonauts (Rise of the Argonauts). Unfortunately, it was a typical AA game – original idea, yet not ambitious or polished enough to gain enough traction. Which is a shame.

  8. tmtvl says:

    Tyranny is like the opposite of Quest of the Avatar.
    Tyranny: the Evil Overlord has won and you are one of the evil minions out to do your own thing.
    Quest of the Avatar: There is no big bad evil guy and you are just a person trying to be virtuous.

    I like them both, but QotA is way~ better, even if it is technologically a bit outdated.

  9. Lars says:

    I liked the alternative History of Metal Gear Solid 3. Where there are a bunsh of different hidden secrets explaining the events during the cold war, like the Cuban Missile Crises.

    And I recently played Imortal Fenyx Rising, where nearly all of the Greek Mythology got retold, leading me to read through a whole lot of wikipedia. Game Of Thrones is childs play against the Ilias. That forced humor of Imortals is rarely funny and mostly annoying but the source material and world design is great.

  10. Lino says:

    As someone who absolutely loves history, I feel you when it comes to history-based fiction. Just take WWII as an example. If you look at most WWII games, you’d think the only places people fought were Normandy and maybe the Pacific. So few games have explored the Eastern Front, India, or most other places, really. And there are so many stories just waiting to be told. I mean, imagine a game set in WWII China where you’re part of a guerilla cavalry regiment fighting the Japanese (which is something that actually happened)! You have to keep your cover, and organise hit-and-run skirmishes with your team, until you can gear up for an assault!

    Or even moving away from WWII, aren’t there any places besides Western Europe that used swords to fight?! I mean, The Witcher became a money-printing juggernaut, and all they did was have the action in a place inspired by Eastern Europe! What about something in an Arabic setting, or one inspired by South-East Asia? I mean, here’s a game inspired by Journey to the West, and just look at how fresh the setting feels!

    Now, I kinda get why there’s so little interest from publishers. You’re marketing to a Western audience, and you want to give consumers something recognisable, something they can more easily identify with. BUT THAT’S WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS FUCKING DOING!!! IF YOU WANT TO BE THE NEXT BIG THING – DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!!!!!!!!!

    I mean, just look at previous break-out fantasy successes! Stop me when you see a pattern (I’m ignoring sci-fi, because this comment is long enough as it is):
    – Dragon Age: standard fantasy, yes, but it was the first modern mainstream dark fantasy. It’s the part of the setting people liked the most
    – Skyrim: still kinda standard, but it had vikings. Most people hadn’t seen that before in a 3D sandbox RPG.
    – Witcher 3: as we already said, Eastern European folklore. Very new for Western audiences (and Eastern ones, for that matter)
    – Dark Souls. Ah, yes! You’ve got me! It’s just a run-of-the-mill dark fantasy! My theory is in shambles! Except that it’s not. You know why? Because Dark Souls was made by a Japanese developer! And Western medieval fantasy is considered exotic to them! Somewhat. Also, people were crazy about the mechanics. As they were with all of my other examples.

    But look, you have to admit that the setting is important, and I for one am sick and tired of seeing the same shit over and over again, when there are so many stories out there just waiting to be told….

  11. Sean says:

    God, I loved Tyranny. I get that the vibe isn’t for everyone, but I found the setting highly distinctive (the whole Archons thing was amazing), and I just overall enjoyed it vastly more than either Pillar of Eternity entry. The spellcrafting and design system was the most fun implementation of such that I’ve seen in any RPG, ever.

    I’m really upset that we’ll likely not get any more of that series.

    1. Thomas says:

      I love how fame and power interact in that game, and how it feeds into everything Kyros does, like banning over people from sharing their name with Kyros.

      It’s a shame it feels like the sequel was going to reveal some fantastic motivation for the villain (why did she seem to deliberately set you on the path to become her rival?) and we’ll never get it.

      As far as I’m concerned it’s the last truly Obsidian Obsidian game. Pillars of Eternity didn’t have the same bite, nor did The Outer Worlds.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        I too loved the integration of fame and power in th story…they writers took an idea, and it informs everything in the story. A lot like Pillars of Eternity.

        Though I think the reveal of Kyros’ motivation was planned for the end of Tyranny, rather than a sequel. There were five acts originally planned…

        And, just because we’ll never get the true answer, random fan theory on Kyros:
        They were training you up to replace them. ‘Kyros’ never was one person but a sucession of them, starting with someone who discovered the power of the Spires. The current Kyros was getting old, and so set you up to discover the power for yourself…eventually hoping to persuade you to take over and continue the empire under their name.

        1. Thomas says:

          I like that one, its fits with a lot of the clues given. My own theory was
          Kyros was once a person, but is losing their identity and their ability to be in control of their actions, in a similar way to the way the Archons were changed by their reputation. Kyros set you on a path to take over from them as an attempt to stop themselves from become an unthinking force. Either she was hoping to regain control of herself, or she just wanted to die

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Heh, I like that.
            I forgot that in Tyranny reputation physically changes you…and after conquering the entire world / continent in the way they did, Kyros’ reputation would have had a massive effect on them. Be the dictator long enough, and you end up not being able to do anything else…
            Maybe Kyros felt like the world would be better served by a new Overlord, with a new name, once the conquest was over…so arranged to be deposed, or ‘deposed’.

            Ach, many possibilities. And we’ll never know…

    2. Grimwear says:

      I was a big fan of Tyranny, especially the magic system. Granted some parts of the game felt rushed/cut which I guess was due to budget cuts but it did make me want to play Pillars of Eternity. And boy did I hate that game. Because of how much fun magic was in Tyranny I went for magic in PoE and I guess it’s very much a DnD system? So I get to cast a whole 2 spells before I need to rest and it just sucked any fun out of the entire game. Put it down after a few hours and never touched it again. I do have Divinity 1 and 2 though so I’ll give them a shot and hopefully they’re better. But yes, Tyranny, lots of fun and they even handled New Game Plus in a satisfying way.

  12. BlueHorus says:

    While there’s a lot I love about Tyranny*, I entirely get not wanting to play a Morally Grey Compromise simulator. The premise is…niche.
    …actually, some ‘compromise’ would have been great during the story. Honestly!
    The game locks you into one of four paths after your first big decision in Act 1, and after that, almost every NPC you meet – who isn’t in the faction you sided with – would rather die than work with you or negotiate in any way. I started the game wanting to help the Tiers as best I could (within my mandate as the Overlord’s spokesman), and ended up jaded and furious at these bloody Tiersmen who were too stubborn / stupid to live. I suppose that MIGHT have been part of the point, but still.

    Also, it clearly ran out of budget or something; the ending arrives early, abruptly, and cuts short an otherwise pretty good story. It’s not quite ‘rocks fall, everyone dies’, but it still leaves you going ‘wait, that’s it!?’**

    …and then you realise that there’s DLC. Which means someone in its development had the brass balls to take an obviously unfinished game and the sell parts of it seperately. Including a couple of companion sidequests!

    *The way it ties the story, character development and magic system all into one central theme is fantastic. And said magic system is a lot of fun.
    **So, a classic Obsidian game, then? BA-DUM TISH

    1. Crokus Younghand says:

      Well, I have read theories that Obsidian may have half-assed the development on Tyranny, since the IP was going to be owned by Paradox, and PoE had already put enough money in their bank to not have to deal with publishers anymore (see the Metacritic incident with Bethesda). They probably wanted to move on with The Outer Worlds.

      Regarding DLC, this is a Paradox published game we are talking about. I’ll be surprised if releasing a bunch of DLCs wasn’t part of the contract to begin with. Paradox is as Paradox does.

  13. Crokus Younghand says:

    Regarding historical games, there’s also the fact that what normal people consider “history” is usually a popular victor-written account from which all details that would paint them in bad light has been removed. As an example, if I were to treat Kingdom Come as a true historical game, I would conclude that in medieval Europe, all women did was childbirth and domestic labour, there was no cultural diffusion, everyone was white caucasian, etc., etc.

    So, a game that sticks to popular interpretation of the past will feel more like propaganda to people truly interested in history, and a game that tries to portray the messy realities will seem too alien to the mainstream audience.

    It’s a tight balance to walk, especially for a big budget game. Obviously, smaller devs are not bound by this issue as much, and I am sure you could find some thing on itch.io that caters to your taste, only it might not be the most polished experience.

  14. Did Darek somehow successfully miss when Ghosts of Tsushima came out?

  15. Gautsu says:

    I love Soulslikes and Ni-Oh and Ni-Oh 2 might be my favorites of the genre. Both fit in the fictional historical sets, with Samurai and Ninjas fighting Demons and Oni. I remarked on the steam forums about how I would love for other games in the setting; I could easily see a game set in South/Central America playing as an indigenous native while the Spanish invade. Or exploring demon-haunted ruins in Africa. The two games have already established that these events are not limited to Japan. But after several years I can understand Team Ninja wanting to do something else as well. Also, while Spiders games are janky, I really enjoyed the Technomancer and Greedfall, and their next game promises to be an actiom rpg about robots set during the French Revolution. Here’s hoping I get that beta invite

  16. The+Big+Brzezinski says:

    “I don’t want to play Valheim because the internet said it has punishing combat.”

    “I want to play as a farmer in a fantasy setting.”


    People who think Valheim has “punishing” combat don’t understand what the game is asking from them. Valheim is a survival game. Being a good fighter doesn’t make you powerful. Being a good survivalist makes you powerful.

    You cannot starve in Valheim. Instead, food is your source of maximum health. It doesn’t last forever, so you have to keep eating. This means you need to keep food in mind, both how much you have left and where you’re going to get more. You might hunt or raise pigs for meat, gather berries and mushrooms, raise crops, even fish when you finally track down a pole.

    Stamina is almost ubiquitously overlooked. Food gives you a bigger maximum stamina, but stamina regen comes from your Rested buff. This buff doubles your stamina regeneration while it lasts. All you need to get one is be dry and comfortable next to a fire for twenty seconds. Simply sitting next to a campfire made from a few rocks and sticks is worth eight rested minutes. I’ve built a sumptuous hall that gives me twenty two, but the magnitude is the same. If you’re wet and/or suffering from the cold of night, your stamina regen slows to as much as a quarter of normal. Without stamina, you can’t attack, block, run, or use tools. But, people ignore it, get greedy, get sloppy, and get cut down by enemies they thought were trivial. Then they complain about the game being unfair.

    To get good food and rested buffs, you need a good home. You need a farm to grow crops. You need bee hives and a meadery to make mead, which are basically the potions of the game. You need good crafting tools to make the best equipment you can. You need to gather and transport materials from wherever you can find them back to your stockpile, so you need to build roads (flattened terrain) for your cart and docks (a floor extended over water) for your boat. You need to protect everything with good walls and defenses. You were sent to this land with a kill list. They know you’re coming. They won’t wait.

    It’s almost anticlimactic how you can dominate some of the bosses with good armor, good food, and a lot of mead to sustain you. You observe their patterns, drink the damage resistance mead that seems appropriate, and proceed to dismantle them. I am no pro gamer. I have never played Dark Souls or whatever other games people like to compare Valheim to. I didn’t even try Doom Eternal because it looked too complicated. Even so, I went five for five against the bosses currently in Valheim without even the threat of death. It was still very satisfying, though. I hadn’t won because of strength of arms or martial skill. I overcame them with planning, organization, and preparation. They were defeated before I even summoned them. They were slain by turnip stew and a comfortable bed.

    On top of that, Valheim is almost free of the usual janky “lulzrealizm” that typifies survival games. You can’t starve. Repairing your gear is free. Building pieces you place drop all their parts when dismantled or destroyed (including boats). The game is also super intuitive. I have never before valued a good natural harbor in a game like I do in Valheim because they can protect my boats from storms. I had to make long winding road up to my hilltop castle because I couldn’t haul a heavy cart directly up the steep sides. I started making little outposts and hideouts everywhere to sleep through the dangerous night safely. I built a raft specifically to get across a narrow cove and back. I left only a narrow passage into my castle so I could defend it by myself with a polearm. The tension of finally filling the hold of my longboat up with metal ore and sailing it back home is some of the greatest I’ve felt in a game. Several real days of work rode on my navigational skills, the vagaries of the wind, the mood of the sea serpents, and how well I can spot rocks around the shore. My bow only works on the sea serpents.

    After the disappointment of Subnautica Below Zero, Valheim is exactly what I needed. It’s anything but “hardcore” or “punishing”. It’s probably the most relaxing and chill game I know right now, and I still have Farming Simulator installed. The game’s Steam page doesn’t have a picture of a bunch of murder hobos flinging themselves at some eldritch beast because that’s not what Valheim is. It’s a picture of two men resting at a campfire. The primeval darkness surrounds them, and it will have to be faced in time. It is this moment of calm that gives them the power they need to face it. That is what Valheim is about.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Wait, you’re transporting ores in a longship instead of a knarr? What kind of viking are you?

    2. Philadelphus says:

      If repairing is free, why bother with an equipment damage meter? Genuine question. I’m very much not against this, because I hate equipment breaking (and gravitate towards Minecraft mods that let me either repair, or even better, auto-repair my tools), but why not just make tools unbreakable?

      1. Fizban says:

        It allows for equipment breakage, which allows for enemies that can break equipment, and also acts as another way to stop people from being unstoppable/give them rope to do themselves in.

        Dark Souls 2 has free repairs, while 1 had costs that mostly served to ensure that if you died and thus only had 0, you’d feel the hurt, but otherwise you’d just top up without worry. 2 in particular had a number of foes, traps, and spells that could damage your equipment, and because repairing was automatic and free as long as the item didn’t completely break, the durability was much lower. And between the upgrading flask and consumable healing items, your effective adventuring time could be quite long.

        Which leads to situations where you’re slowly clearing an area (or fell down somewhere), pushing on, tagging but not resting at bonfires to avoid respawning foes so you can push further or backtrack more easily, and all seems well- until you suddenly get the “Weapon/Armor at Risk!” warning, in the middle of a fight, and you don’t even have Repair Powder on you let alone equipped because why would you? It’s a rare but memorable occurrence. And also a mechanic that can come into play for challenge runs: IIRC, DS2 has a legitimate zero-resting achievement, under which weapon durability would become a huge factor.

        Also- now that above, was sales pitch, and I can see some appeal.

      2. The+Big+Brzezinski says:

        Rather than spend resources each time you repair you gear, you have to have a good enough crafting station. These stations are improved by building secondary tools around them. Workbenches for instance are improved by a nearby tanning rack and chopping block. Higher level crafting stations also let you spend resources to improve equipment.

        So instead nagging you with repair bills, the game asks you to design and build a nice workshop.

    3. Shamus says:

      “People who think Valheim has “punishing” combat don’t understand what the game is asking from them. Valheim is a survival game. Being a good fighter doesn’t make you powerful. Being a good survivalist makes you powerful.”

      Uh, the STORE PAGE says it has punishing combat. I’m just taking the developer’s word for it. You can argue all you want with people about punishment, but if “punishment” is a selling point then I’m not buying.

      1. The+Big+Brzezinski says:

        Yeah, that baffles me. Well, not really baffled. “Functional” is a more accurate descriptor, but not a good buzzword to print on the back of the metaphorical box. So maybe calling their combat “punishing” is more eye-roll-evoking to me. I can hardly blame them for a little embellishment.

        I think context is what keeps the combat from being properly punishing. Usually if you fail a progression fight in such a game, you have to pay a time/busywork penalty before you’re allowed another chance at the same test. In Valheim, this test is optional. Progression is always available somewhere else, probably nearby. The world is huge and full of resources. If some dungeon decides to be a jerk (and some do), you move on to the next one. You’re the one in control. You set the pace. You’re the one who can sneak around with a bow picking off the mobs that killed you earlier. You simply have too many tools and options to get stuck. The only thing you need to fight is the bosses, and they’re hardly tests of combat skill. I’d be far more terrified of a troll attacking my farm except that I built that wall around it.

        If you do die, you’ll still have to make the run of shame to recover your gear. This is less of a pain than it sounds. A naked viking with a good meal and a rested bonus is extremely slippery, while mob attacks are usually slow and well telegraphed. Once you touch your grave and recover your gear, you receive a one minute “Corpse Run” buff that increases your health regen to the point of near invulnerability. This generally goes to waste as the mobs that killed you have despawned. If they do remain, you instead don your previous set of equipment and attack from a distance with your bow. The length of this run is determined by the proximity of your spawn point, so frequent outpost building helps a lot. You end up building a lot of such structures in Valheim.

        I would argue Satisfactory of all things has more punishing combat, though not really challenging or fun. Each new mineral node has a guardian(s) that must be slain using whatever janky weapons you’ve tech’d up to. Failing this combat check means you drop all your gear and materials and respawn way back at the HUB. There are no alternate strategies, as hand weapons are the only way to remove these creatures. There are other nodes, but they also have guardians. So you pick your nuts and berries, slide jump around, and taze the pack of spitters until they all drop their organs. You are then allowed to go back to your chill factory building game. That is unless you accidentally walk off the narrow pillar you were fighting on into the abyss below. Then you uninstall and wait for the next update. I really like building things. I really hate spitters.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          There are no alternate strategies, as hand weapons are the only way to remove these creatures.

          What? I got the rebar gun or whatever it’s called pretty early on, and other than taking up inventory space ammo for it is easy to make and infinite. (And the wiki says there’s a rifle later on.) If you can get to a spot where whatever it is can’t reach you (and if no landscape features exist you can just plunk down an observation post) you can pick things off with impunity. Spitters you’ll have to dodge their shots back, but it’s still much easier.

          Though combat in Satisfactory has always felt to me like it’s in this awkward space, where they should either flesh it out more or remove it entirely; it’s just a bit too perfunctory at the moment.

          1. The+Big+Brzezinski says:

            I mean like hand weapons as opposed to vehicle- or structure-mounted weapons. You can’t even run critters over.

            It’s not hard enough to be engaging, so the biggest danger to me is getting bored and sloppy. I’m being forced to do a fight that I’m not enjoying or interested in. I can’t go get stronger first because I need that node to progress. In this building game, nothing I can build will solve this problem. All I can do is fight with whatever weapons I have at that tier.

            Now there are combat hazards in Valheim, but mostly they sap your strength. They take time away from your resource gathering and require you to keep reserve stamina. The threat they pose puts pressure on the core survival systems. They’re why you need to keep fed, rested, and otherwise ready to fight. Do so, and they’re trivial. Neglect your supplies, and they’ll get ya.

            The core building systems of Satisfactory are totally unrelated to fighting. They’re geared for harvesting, transporting, and processing resources. Obstacles are either removed with a tool or bypassed. You use explosives to clear rocks and chainsaws to clear trees. You bridge gaps make level roads with foundations. You setup truck stations and refueling depots to transport materials overland.

            If I was King for a Day of Video Games, I’d have those devs figure out ways to handle dangerous animals that required clever tool use and building skills instead of fighting. Noisemakers, bait, electric fences, neural pacification fields, that kind of thing. It worked in Subnautica. I wonder if spitter spit would have any applications in spacecraft manufacture if we can get enough spitters together to milk useful quantities of it. We do not waste, after all.

  17. TFrengler says:

    Oh man, Valheim is a game I really fell in love with despite it – on the surface – being EXACTLY the type of game I always avoid.

    I believe I already wrote about it before but to reiterate: being in my late 30’s, with a wife, a full-time job and a 1 year old, I have significantly less time to play than I used to. This fact alone means I usually shy away from anything that resembles “open-world” and “sandbox”. I am also a personality type that isn’t fond of making decisions and set goals for myself, and therefore tend to gravitate towards games that are much more linear and/or tell me what to do.

    Open-world/sandbox games – while not always – tend to be of the type “here’s the world: do what you want” and I am immediately like: “no thanks, bye!”. I was therefore pleasantly surprised a few years back when I got Subnaunatica via Epic (one of their first give-aways I believe) because it had a story to drive me through its otherwise open world. It gave me a goal beyond just figuring out what I wanted to do myself.

    With all this preamble out of the way… Valheim was almost immediately dismissed by me for seemingly ticking all the typical boxes of an open-world/sandbox game, and the words “brutal” and “punishing” being uttered didn’t help either.

    Despite this I decided to give it a go because I love Norse mythology, and from what I saw in the screenshots I absolutely adore the graphical style. Someone in an earlier comment already described it better than I could. Instead here’s a random list of things I enjoyed:

    – The story (to the extent it can be called that) is light enough for you not having to care or remember it between sessions (if you like me get to play once every few weeks) but good enough to feel like you are not just left to making goals for yourself.

    – Progression is tied to the story. Mild spoiler but you have to beat the first boss to get what you need to be able to harvest the next tier of materials for example. The “story” thus drives you forward but at your own pace (more on that below).

    – The world, although open, is still built on the idea of a somewhat linear progression. There’s nothing stopping you from liberally exploring everywhere but the biomes seem designed to get progressively more difficult. Also each biome has new materials and – as far as I can tell from my progression so far – each boss tends to hold the “key” (not literal key) to getting your hands on a new material.

    – The progression – and therefore the difficulty to a large extent – is decided by you. It seems – unsure how exactly this works – tied to the bosses you have defeated and gear/mats you have and biomes you have explored etc. I spent a good 50 hours between boss 1 and 2 with plenty of stuff to do, crafting and building my base(s) without feeling the need to progress.

    – The crafting is solid and simple yet robust, without feeling overwhelming. Another thing these games tend to do which I find offputting how you make some “crafting bench” and then you get assaulted by a list of 10k+ items you can make. The progression of this game makes me feel much more comfortable about what I can craft because it’s slowly revealed over time (as soon as you harvest or pick up new materials you learn the recipes).

    – The world and the atmosphere. As far as I am concerned this game is a masterclass in using little things to gain a lot. Textures are pixilated and fidelity wise it doesn’t win any awards. But holy moly its use of lighting, shadows etc are fantastic! Standing in a forest and seeing the sun rise through the trees – not just with the sunshafts but also how the ambient light changes – is a sight to behold. Seeing the clouds gather over you while you sail, the waves picking up, wind ripping and rain battering you while flashes of lightning briefly light up the horizon… Screenshots just don’t do it justice. Oh boy, the wave simulation is incredible as well. The audio design is also fantastic: the ambient sounds of being in a forest, particularly at night, brings me straight back to camping when I was a child. And frightening (to me at least) being in one of the first biomes when it’s dark and packs of enemies roam about.

    More than anything else I think it’s a masterful recipe of doing many small things right that combine into a great game. Been many years since I have had such a joy of exploring and discovering a world, and the secret it holds. I went in completely blind, never look anything up online (at least I try very hard) and I have played solo exclusively. It’s tough but doable, but I can see how having just 1 other player already eases a lot of burdens.

    I’d claim the game is not as brutal as is advertised though it certainly doesn’t hold your hand either. There’s a brief tutorial which I found tasteful because it’s happy leaving you alone if you don’t want to engage with it. I find the game quite relaxing to play in general, but I had some super frustrating moments early on that got better as I got used to the game. I can see why that can be a turn-off to many players though.

    And if you have sailed across the globe to another continent and got killed? Tough luck – you start back at your base naked and it’s your problem how to get your stuff back. Not enough mats for a new boat? Well, guess you’ll be farming mats to re-create most of your gear (and your boat) just so you can go get your old stuff back at a later date. This has happened only a few times to me but boy did I feel like uninstalling. If you don’t relish the idea that this can happen to you then yeah, can’t recommend it.

    I could go on and on but this post is already way longer than I intended, sorry.

    1. Gordon says:

      I wish Hugin would come talk to me more, as a solo player it can be a lil lonely at times. At least it doesn’t lean into that hard with the music like the C418 Minecraft music does.

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