Diecast Unplugged #5: Voxel Tycoon and Windows Update

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 19, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 94 comments

No Diecast this week. Although if things go to plan, I’ll be on the Eh! Steve! podcast later this week. Chris and I have been trying to make this happen for over a month now, but scheduling conflicts have gotten in the way.

Anyway, here are some topics I was going to talk about on the show…

Voxel Tycoon

I’ve had a few run-ins with this genre over the years. The first was when I played the original Capitalism (1995) sometime in the late 90s. Then Capitalism II. Then some various $noun Tycoon games in the aughts and teens. I’m not sure where the genre borders are, and I don’t know where you draw the line between “Production Business” type games and “Transport and Logistics” type games. I’ve never gotten very far with any of them, but I keep trying anyway. These games are popular – Capitalism in particular has a reputation as a legendary title from the 90s – but they’ve never clicked for me.

On paper, it seems like this stuff should be right up my alley. I love base-building. I like games where you run a business. And if my Factorio problem is any indication, I have a weird obsession with logistics.

I think my problem with these games is that they too often feature complexity without the depth to back it up. I can’t remember which games I’ve played or how they all worked, but here is a rough approximation of my experience:

I’m about fifteen minutes into the tutorial, which has me creating a single product. I have to build a warehouse, then buy some raw materials, then hire a truck to bring the materials to the warehouse. Then I build a factory. Then I assign the factory a single blueprint.

Oops. Looking at my holdings now, I see I bought “Wood Planks” when the tutorial told me to buy “Treated Wood Panels”. So now my warehouse is full of wood I can’t use. I can’t see any way to sell or even throw away the Wood Planks, so I need to build another entire warehouse and do the whole supply chain again, but with the right part this time.

Okay, the factory is making furniture. Now the tutorial tells me to build a warehouse to hold the output. Thinking I’m being clever, I build the warehouse right next to the factory so I won’t need trucks to transport the furniture around.

Sometime later in the tutorial process, I realize that I don’t have any furniture available to sell. I check, and discover that putting the two buildings next door to each other doesn’t work. You have to use trucks. So I try to hire a truck to move the stuff next door, but the tutorial won’t let me create a route that short. So I need to tear down my warehouse and build it father away. Of course, in the REAL WORLD you can’t get your money back if you demolish an already-completed building, and this game is all about the REAL WORLD. (A “real world” where my factory workers can’t move furniture next door.) So I demolish the old building and discover I don’t have enough money to build a new one. The tutorial is broken and my game is soft-locked.

So then I use the keyboard shortcut designed to solve problems like this, which is Alt-F4.

I wouldn't mind all this complexity if there was some depth to go along with it.
I wouldn't mind all this complexity if there was some depth to go along with it.

Ugh. My gripe here isn’t that the game is too hard or that the tutorial is bad. Complicated games need to have complicated tutorials. My problem is that we have so many layers of complexity that exist for no reason. Why can’t I just click on the factory, choose a supplier, and have the raw materials deposited at my factory?

But Shamus! That’s not how things work in THE REAL WORLD! This game is trying to teach you about supply systems. Go play a dumbed-down mobile game if you want to play “baby’s first capitalism”.

My problem with the system is that none of these layers offer the player any real gameplay. There’s no decisions to make. No trade-off between low short-term gains and larger long-term payoffs. No way to optimize anything.

You could remove all of these intermediate layers without losing anything in terms of business decisions. It would be reasonable to assume that somewhere in my company is some middle-manager in charge of running warehouses and hiring trucks. But that guy has a boring job, which is why I’m paying him to do it rather than doing it myself. I’m supposedly the president, and I’m also the only real human being in the entire enterprise. So it would make sense to have me focus my creativity and natural curiosity on interesting decisions and leave the routine stuff to an AI.

Game designer: But Shamus! I don’t want to write an AI to run warehouses and hire truck drivers. That’s super-boring!

I know, right? So I’m wondering why did you put warehouses and trucks in the game, Sparky? If we’re both bored, then who is this for?

Other games skip over needless complexity by abstracting it away. You can’t simulate everything, so part of designing a game is deciding where to draw the line. I’m sure Cal Kestus needs to hydrate and relieve himself, bathe, brush his teeth, clean the mud out of the grooves in his lightsaber, sleep, launder his outfit, dry out his boots, and eat. But those things don’t add anything to the gameplay or the story, so they’re not depicted in the game. Likewise, I don’t need to personally hire individual trucks and explain to them how to move assets around my company. That stuff can happen off-screen and we can just have the goods show up at the buildings, which is where I can make interesting decisions about what to do with the stuff.

In the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, you don’t need to pay an engineer to design a coaster, hire another engineer to audit the design, haggle with the city for zoning permits, pay for an environmental impact study, hire a construction company, expand your liability insurance to cover the new coaster, commission the coaster and hire a transport company to ship it all the way across the continent to your park, have the concrete base poured months ahead of time so it has time to cure, and then cordon off sections of the park in stages so  you can assemble the whole thing without endangering people. We can assume those things are happening in the background, but there’s no reason to simulate it because it doesn’t add anything to the game. It would boil down to the player going through the same two dozen pointless dialog boxes every time they wanted to make a new attraction. That’s not gameplay, that’s busywork.

Because of this, I’ve never spent more than an hour-ish with any of these games. They sound so fun on the surface, but I’m never able to find the fun once I’m in the game.

This time I decided I was really going to give it a go. I was going to get through the tutorial and spend a few hours with Voxel Tycoon to see if it clicked. Maybe these games just have a high initial barrier to get over and then it gets really good?

Verdict: Eh. Not so much.

I love the minimalist style.
I love the minimalist style.

I really do love the art style. This low-poly flat-shaded look is groovy. But the gameplay was exactly what I expected.

What ruined the game for me:

At one point I was making a smelter to make iron bars. I was shoved into an awkward corner without a lot of room to build more stuff. Thinking I was being clever, I funneled the iron bars into a warehouseNot actually a warehouse. It’s a “freight station”. How does a “freight station” differ from a “warehouse”? I have no idea. I’m sure it has something to do with THE REAL WORLD. I was already using for coal. Then later I got a notification that a bunch of my trucks had stopped making money.

One thing I should note is that you need to buy your own vehicles and then you need to assign them routes. You need to micro-manage the little bastards to tell them where to pick up items and where to drop them off. Curiously, you can’t tell them what items to pick up or drop off. I assumed the trucks would work it out on their own based on context. But no.

So the truck I was using to deliver coal swung by the usual station, and randomly decided to grab these iron bars instead of coal. Then it drove the iron bars to the power plant and sat there for the rest of the month, trapped, because the power plant didn’t need iron bars.I had the truck set to wait until it was empty. You can fix this by NOT doing that, but then trucks will sometimes waste an entire cross-county run delivering one lump of coal. It’s nonsense either way, so you’re just choosing what the fail state looks like. Worse, it blocked the street so now there were a dozen or so trucks trapped behind it, unable to route around or deliver their goods. As salt in the wound, this created a cashflow problem for me.Also, cleaning unwanted items out of a truck is really annoying. There’s no button for “dump this crap, I need you to deliver other stuff.”

Now, you can argue that the game is in Early Access and there are bound to be some hiccups. And that’s fine. If this is just a bug, then no big deal. But this perfectly matches the experiences I’ve had with the genre in the past, where you’re forced to micromanage an obtuse and overcomplicated system. You’re forced to manage all this low-level stuff manually, but you’re not given enough tools to do the job properly.

You can’t create a world where a lone driver clogs city traffic for a month because he just picks up items at random from his assigned warehouse, and then turn around and tell me all of this micro-management is being done in the name of “realism”. IN THE REAL WORLD, that truck got moved, one way or another, out of the way of city traffic. If I want to be a smartass, I can start asking why he didn’t die of thirst while sitting in front of the power plant for weeks on end. If you’re not going to stop simulating things because they’re boring and trivial, then when DO you stop?

For the record, Voxel Tycoon is doing well. As of now, the consensus on Steam is “Very Positive”. Fans of the genre seem to like it. So all of this negativity shouldn’t be seen as a criticism of the game as much as a commentary on the genre as a whole.

For me, it’s not fun and I don’t get it. But if you dig this genre, then maybe it’s worth a look. Like I said, the art is great.

Windows Update

Oh no. The ominous Windows Update Icon has appeared in my system tray again. Months ago I announced I was going to turn off Windows Update, and then I discovered that this was complicated, risky, or reliant on third-party software. So I switched to the lazy / poor man’s solution: indefinite postponement. When the icon pops up, I just hit the “suspend updates for 7 days” button as many times as it will allow. This usually gives me a couple of months of peace.

Sooner or later, I’ll bet Windows will put its foot down and make me do it. I’m not sure what I’ll do when the time comes.

But I wonder what’s in the update? Let’s have a look!

  • Dark Mode. Really Microsoft? “Dark mode”? That’s your big headline feature? And hang on, my taskbar and Start Menu are already dark grey. What else is there to darken? Are you trying to offer me a feature I already have?
  • The ability to pin websites to the taskbar. Oh hell no. The last thing I want is for my operating system to “help” me with my workflow. I know how to use bookmarks, thanks. Taskbar real estate is precious enough as it is. (Also, I’ll bet you this is linked to Microsoft Edge, and I’m NEVER using Microsoft Edge. Yes, I hear it’s good. But Microsoft abandoned Internet Explorer when they got bored with it in the aughts, and that caused headaches and nightmares for web developers for years. I remember cursing them in the early days of this site when I couldn’t get things to look consistent across the browsers, and IE was always the maverick. Microsoft doesn’t deserve a second chance and there’s no reason to give them one. There are plenty of web browsers out there these days. I’d like one from a company that DIDN’T create massive ongoing security problems and force a generation of web developers to route around their non-compliant browser with ugly hacks.)
  • Alt-Tab through web pages! Okay, this would never impact me because I won’t use Edge, but this sounds like the most nightmare anti-feature ever. When I’m alt-tabbing between programming, testing in Unity, and image editing, the last thing I need is for the process list to be cluttered up with the dozen or so Stack Overflow windows I have open. Yuck.

But wait! There’s more! I have two updates waiting now. Let’s see what the other one is.

  • Require Windows Hello sign-in for Microsoft accounts. The word “require” is always terrifying. This “feature” allows you (or forces you?) to log into the machine using your face. I guess some people leave an always-on webcam on their computer? I am not one of those people. One of the great sins of modern-day Microsoft is that they can’t tell the difference between securing your machine against the internet and securing it from your housemates. I understand that some people need both, but for me it’s really important that my family can access my machine whenever they need to. I have control over my half of the family income, and I want my wife to be able to transfer funds to keep a check from bouncing. And I don’t want her to have to wake me up to do it. Or maybe someone wants to use the printer, which for some reason will only talk to my machine over the network. Or maybe my wife needs to reset a password on one of the dozens of family accounts linked to my email.The point is, I don’t want the idiots in Redmond dictating security policies to me. This machine needs to be open to anyone in the house without a password or access to my face, and if this update “fixes” this arrangement then I’ll lose hours of productivity trying to undo the mess.
  • Have magnifier text read aloud. Yay usability. I’m sure lots of folks will benefit from this. But do we really need to have a SYSTEM-WIDE MODIFICATION TO THE OPERATING SYSTEM for this? Does this really need to be part of one of these scary updates that steals your computer for the better part of an hour? I mean, I have this same question for most of the items on this list, but this one especially.
  • Make text cursor easier to read. You can add little colored gizmos to the cursor to make it easier for grammy to find it on the 4K monitor we inexplicably bought her. Again, that’s nice. But is this feature so important that we need to push out an update to all users everywhere? Couldn’t this update stand on its own? Or be packaged with something people need?

That’s it. Those three features are evidently the core of this update that Microsoft is pushing. The first is a feature I dread, and the other two are small situational usability tools that don’t apply to me.

Please tell me that we’re making progress with getting games to run on Linux.  I’d love to enjoy my hobby without this ball of stress and misery every three months.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Not actually a warehouse. It’s a “freight station”. How does a “freight station” differ from a “warehouse”? I have no idea. I’m sure it has something to do with THE REAL WORLD.

[2] I had the truck set to wait until it was empty. You can fix this by NOT doing that, but then trucks will sometimes waste an entire cross-county run delivering one lump of coal. It’s nonsense either way, so you’re just choosing what the fail state looks like.

[3] Also, cleaning unwanted items out of a truck is really annoying. There’s no button for “dump this crap, I need you to deliver other stuff.”



From The Archives:
 

94 thoughts on “Diecast Unplugged #5: Voxel Tycoon and Windows Update

  1. Lord Future says:

    With Microsoft buying Bethesda, sniffing around Discord and other game companies, Epic burning through $300 million to get a foothold in PC gaming, do you really think native Linux gaming has any future? If you do, I have this bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

    1. Retsam says:

      As long as Linux continues to only have ~2% of the total market share (and I bet a significant chunk of them dual boot with something else), I’d be very surprised if native Linux gaming has any significant future at all, regardless of what Microsoft and Epic do.

      It just doesn’t make financial sense to spend basically any developer time on supporting Linux, (and opening yourself up to handling support tickets from all the various linux flavors can actually be an ongoing resource drain, I’ve heard).

      Linux support is largely going to continue to be incidental – i.e. if the tools the developers are using already happen to support Linux without extra effort on their part (e.g. Unity, AFAIK) – or else by dedicated pushes by companies with vested interests, e.g. Valve.

      The reason Valve has pushed support for Linux is likely not ideological love for the platform, but part of a commoditize your complement strategy – an OS is the complement to Steam, and if the option of a free operating system helps convince people to game on PC not on consoles, that’s a win for Valve. If Epic gets a similarly strong PC storefront foothold, they may change their tune on Linux support for similar reasons.

      1. evilmrhenry says:

        Steam developed Proton as a specific response to Windows “apps”. Microsoft was making noises around .exes being insecure, and the new big thing would be programs made with an app-style security model. (Sold only through the Microsoft store, of course.) Then Steam invested time and money into Proton, and generally making sure that a Linux-based computer was at least somewhat suitable for gaming, so Microsoft didn’t have the ability to utterly destroy their business with a Windows update.

      2. Echo Tango says:

        Valve already has PC gamers from Windows – the commodification was already done in the past by Microsoft. The push for Linux, was back when Windows 10 was newer; Valve didn’t want to lose any part of the PC market, from Microsoft’s marketplace (built into the OS) being the only place to buy games.

        1. Retsam says:

          I think you’re misunderstanding what “commodification” means. A commoditized, perfectly competitive market is a market in which all products are considered equivalent – if this were true of operating systems, nobody would pay for Windows as long as free alternatives existed, so “commodification of the operating system” is the last thing that Microsoft wants, as they make significant money from selling Windows. (Though I think that’s starting to shift)

          Whereas it is something Valve would want. Having to buy an operating system is one of the barriers that stands between a consumer and buying PC games. It’s not the biggest barrier, that’s the cost of hardware (ever wonder why Steam Machines were a thing?), but any amount of barrier reduction means a bigger PC gaming market, which is a win for Valve.

      3. Philadelphus says:

        (and I bet a significant chunk of them dual boot with something else)

        According to the latest stats from Gaming on Linux, just over 71% of 1912 respondents indicated no dual-booting. 26% reported dual-booting Windows, with the remainder dual-booting MacOS, ChromeOS, or “Other”. Not sure if that’s a “significant chunk” or not.

        1. Retsam says:

          Yeah, so if 25% of them dual-boot with Windows, then adding Linux support for your game means that you’ve really only expanded your audience by 1.5%, since of the 2% that uses Linux, 0.5% of them could already play your game on their Windows boot drive.

          That doesn’t mean Linux support doesn’t count for anything, Linux support might still make your game more appealing to that .5%, but that still means that the “potential audience” gained by supporting Linux is even smaller than the already small 2%.

    2. evilmrhenry says:

      I mean, there’s a reason he linked to Proton. WINE-based solutions let you play arbitrary Windows games on Linux, and I’ve heard it’s reasonably decent these days.

      The real problem is that Linux also has issues around updates, except those updates cover the entire system. Back when I was still trying to make Linux on my desktop work, I dreaded updates, because they always broke something. Sure, you could disable them, but then you’re no longer getting security updates.

      1. John says:

        I’m sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with Linux updates. I’ve been using Linux for something like eight years and four computers now and I’ve only had updates break things a handful of times. Which distribution were you using? All my experience is with Ubuntu and Ubuntu derivatives. I’ve never had the guts to give more DIY, hardcore distributions like Arch a try.

        In general, I find Linux updates much less obnoxious than Windows updates. I can put off updates for as long as I need to. Linux never starts downloading or installing updates without my permission. The updates tend to be small and so the process is usually over quite quickly, typically in a few minutes or less. Even a substantial kernel update is usually over and done with in under fifteen minutes. Updates, including kernel updates, almost never require restarts. There’s a unified update system so that many of my applications use the same update system as the OS and I am not forced to have a million and one little memory-resident software updaters running in the background.

        1. evilmrhenry says:

          I was using Debian. To be fair, that was a decade back, and maybe they’ve sorted this kind of stuff out, but I doubt it’s better than Windows.

          1. John says:

            Ah. I’ve only ever tried Debian from a live USB stick. It seemed to work well enough on an Intel/Nvidia desktop machine but didn’t boot properly on my laptop with a newer AMD CPU and integrated graphics. If I had to guess, it’s probably because the USB stick didn’t include the right drivers. That happens sometimes, but fortunately not too frequently.

          2. Abnaxis says:

            What distro you use makes a very large difference in how much familiarity you need to install and update software and drivers without issue. IME Debian is one that does tend to break if you don’t put in extra effort.

            If the trouble you had with updating it is what put you off, I would suggest trying one of the more user-friendly distributions such as Ubuntu, it tends to be much more stable.

            Or, I’m just used to doing Linux things so I don’t notice the issues *shrug*

          3. Philadelphus says:

            I’ve been using Debian since…2016? Debian 8, I think, up to 10 now. Can’t say I’ve had problems with updates per se—I had a period of time when I was using testing rather than stable where it seemed like updates were breaking things, but I discovered a few months later that one of my four RAM modules had been steadily failing hard for a while, so I now suspect it was due to that instead. I ended up going back to stable at the end of 2018 because it actually managed to corrupt my installation from the memory errors, but I’ve been tempted to jump back up to testing or even unstable to get some more recent software. Having grown up using Windows, I can say that I definitely enjoy the Debian upgrade process a whole lot more (these days, can’t speak to it a decade ago).

    3. Paulo Marques says:

      The latest AAA? No.
      But 5 years and counting of not using Windows, it does just fine by me. Your mileage will vary, but gaming has many different offers, and most of the big types of games that don’t work I didn’t care about before anyway. The others, I can wait, the backlog is full.
      But for game journalists (or a bunch of other jobs), yep, no miracles, sorry. Having to do maintenance on several family computers, I’ve learned re-installs are a part of Windows 10, and at least, don’t take that long to have everything working as every developer understands that’s what you do.

  2. Dreadjaws says:

    Huh. You’ve just described exactly what’s the problem I have with this kind of game, but I had never sat down to think about exactly what was that turned me off them. But this is it, without a doubt. When games mistake complexity for depth has always been a pet peeve of mine.

    Side note: have you ever played Game Dev Tycoon? I think it’s the only game with “Tycoon” in the title that has managed to keep me entertained for several hours. It certainly has you managing a business, but it’s clearly not a “base building” sort of game, though I guess you can make the case that it is in spirit.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I don’t even mind the complexity, but when there’s no tools to move past lower-level things, you end up doing all of the different levels of complexity at once, which is overwhelming. Factorio isn’t perfect[1] but it at least gives you builder-robots and blueprints so that you can start placing larger-scale structures with single clicks, instead of laying down things one at a time. Even before that, the game lets you click-drag, to run down a line of assemblers all in a row. :)

      Beyond that, this tycoon game seems like it’s just got broken systems and broken “real world” imitation. Like…what type of game has coal-truckers accidentally picking up iron ingots? Different goods often have different types of trailers to hook your truck up to – coal could be in a large dump-trailer because it’s loose materials, and the iron bars could be large enough to be strapped down on a flat-bed. Besides the fact that truckers know what routes they’re supposed to drive! There’s no way in hell someone who’s supposed to haul coal would even get loaded, let alone across the route, without someone stopping or firing them. ^^;

      [1] I’m actually totally bored with the game again, because once you even research half the stuff, or get part-way with circuits or trains, the game’s already over. Yes, I could keep optimizing my train-loading stations, or make my mid-game factories optimal like my early-game factories were…but it’s all just arithmetic, and grinding down bug-hives now.

  3. Lino says:

    Typolice:

    That’s super-boing!

    Should be “boring”. Or “Boeing”. Or better yet, just leave it as-is – it sounds really cute!

    Also, kind of disappointed there isn’t an audio version this week – I’ve got a lot of clothes to iron, and I was hoping to have some nice background chatter to iron to. Now I can’t do my ironing, and it’s all your fault! I hope the Eh! Steve! podcast happens this week, because I’m getting tired of constantly moving this huge pile of clothes from my office chair to my bed!

    On a more serious note, I’ve never been able to get into the sim genre, mainly due to how over-complicated it’s always seemed to me. I get why people like them, but all the micromanagement has always felt like needless busywork…

    1. Chris says:

      Also, kind of disappointed there isn’t an audio version this week – I’ve got a lot of clothes to iron, and I was hoping to have some nice background chatter to iron to

      Oddly, I’m the opposite – I tend to read articles between other things or late at night, and I’m not usually able to play audio because it will disturb people around me (yeah, there’s headphones, but I’m not usually wearing them on the off-chance there’s some content today).

      As such, if a podcast doesn’t have a transcript (which I know is a whole sack of effort in itself, don’t get me wrong!), the content is effectively inaccessible to me.

      This has also applied to games in the past – I’m usually playing with the audio muted. I remember an entertaining incident in Fallout: New Vegas where I had walked past an ambush, and only realised from when the killcam was triggered by EDE lasering the last bandit – I turned around to a trail of flaming corpses going quite far up the road!

      1. Lino says:

        I tend to do the same, but for completely different reasons – I enjoy doing housework in silence, because I actually find it quite meditative. For some reason, this one time I decided to iron while listening to the Diecast :D

        Now, I know what you’re gonna say – I’m just using the lack of audio Diecast as an excuse for postponing my housework. Well, I’m not! I’m a very conscientious person, and I would never blame others for my own shortcomings. But you have to admit, some things are out of our control. So, those clothes will just have to wait until next Monday…

      2. Daimbert says:

        Oddly, I’m the opposite – I tend to read articles between other things or late at night, and I’m not usually able to play audio because it will disturb people around me (yeah, there’s headphones, but I’m not usually wearing them on the off-chance there’s some content today).

        I’m the same, but for different reasons. When working I’d need to either plug my speakers into the work laptop or else wear headphones, both of which I hate to do. And after work I don’t usually have the time to listen to anything, whereas while working I have time to read while installing and/or compiling. So if there isn’t a transcript I’m not going to get the content.

    2. Daimbert says:

      On a more serious note, I’ve never been able to get into the sim genre, mainly due to how over-complicated it’s always seemed to me. I get why people like them, but all the micromanagement has always felt like needless busywork…

      While I’m not as heavily into the sim genre, what I’ve found in games with that sort of micromanagement is that they need good automation systems, where they can cover most of the day-to-day grind but aren’t going to be ideal and so you’ll need to tweak things regularly. So for people who really like micromanagement they can just do it all themselves, and for those who don’t they can let the systems do it at the cost of it not being ideally efficient.

    3. Echo Tango says:

      Also typo: low-ploy should be low-poly.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        and: “You need to miro-manage” should probably be “micro”.

    4. Henson says:

      Typolice:

      That’s super-boing!

      Should be “boring”. Or “Boeing”. Or better yet, just leave it as-is – it sounds really cute!

      Maybe he was trying to do a Homestar Runner impression.

  4. Geebs says:

    My experience of Proton is exactly what I have learned to expect of a Linux program which people-on-internet-forums declare is working “perfectly”, i.e. it’s a daring and incredibly impressive feat of engineering, and completely unusable.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Oops, this one should have been in its own thread, not as a reply.

      When the icon pops up, I just hit the “suspend updates for 7 days” button as many times as it will allow. This usually gives me a couple of months of peace.

      You can go into the advanced options after any update and set the pause updates to the furthest down the list it can be set. This is usually a couple of months but once it hits that time it’s pretty much going to update without telling you.

      The word “require” is always terrifying. This “feature” allows you (or forces you?) to log into the machine using your face.

      It’s probably so that you can set your account to require that if necessary, since you can set the machine to not log in using your Microsoft account at all (that’s how my newest laptop is running). Not all that useful for home use, but something that businesses would like RIGHT up until the recognition fails and their IT department has to do a lot of things just to let someone work. Then again, my work laptop is set to internal network login so for some businesses it’s a useless feature as well.

      The scariest thing about the latest update is that it was tagged as a “Update to the latest now or we won’t support things anymore!” update. I’d have been more tempted to simply ignore it but I have three other machines so if it screws something up I’m still okay for pretty much everything I do.

    2. tmtvl says:

      My experience with it is like with all GNU/Linux-related programs which random internet people declare “completely unusable”: works out of the box 80% of the time, and with simple tweaks 18% of the time. For example, Dragon’s Dogma, Dark Souls II, and Arcanum work without any tweaks (though just like on Windows, Arcanum benefits from the HD patch).

      It is weird how different people have such different results when using this kind of software, I suppose hardware (and especially firmware) is going to be a major cause for these headaches, but I wonder what else is responsible for it.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        I realized recently that some time ago, like a year or more already, I actually stopped bothering to even check if a game has a native Linux version because Proton just works something like 95% of the time. I don’t even remember the last time I had to apply a manual tweak to it; usually making sure I’m running the latest version takes care of things (though AoE II:DE did manage to break itself with one of its latest patches, annoyingly). Is it perfect? No; nothing trying to reverse-engineer/translate Microsoft’s spaghetti code without any documentation will ever be perfect. But it’s come a long way, and Valve’s showing no signs of stopping work on it.

        1. Geebs says:

          I tried out Lair of the Clockwork God (hard-locked the computer) and Hades (choose between music, sound FX, or the entire thing failing to load, depending on version of Proton). Then I gave up.

          When there’s a significant non-zero chance that any game might not play as intended – without the player being able to tell unless they’ve already played the same game on another platform – or might have a crash bug introduced 95% of the way through, it’s just not worth the time and effort. I can just boot Windows instead.

          ProtonDB lists 37% of games as “platinum” and 30% as “gold”. That’s still a minefield.

          1. Philadelphus says:

            Oof, sorry to hear that. That’s always rough. I’ve certainly been there—early releases of Proton didn’t work with many of my Windows-only games, so each new update was an exciting time of “let’s see which games will work with this latest release!” (Now, I think all but one of my (>30) non-native games works perfectly or basically fine [platinum or gold, essentially] and have for the past few versions, so new updates no longer have that special shininess to them.)

            I don’t have either of those games, but Lair of the Clockwork God supposedly has a native Linux version? (At least according to ProtonDB—it’s possible the native version is badly done which is why you were trying to run it with Proton; I ended up doing that with Transistor) And Hades is rated platinum overall, with nearly 300 reports, so it’s odd that it’s not working for you. There’s definitely still a significant “individual system factor” in place; with the recent AoE II: DE breaking patch, some people were reporting that it still worked with older Proton versions, but is doesn’t for me. Hopefully the situation will improve in the future.

    3. John says:

      I’ve had some pretty good experiences with Proton and Steam games, including but not limited to Street Fighter IV, Batman: Arkham Origins, Injustice, and even Good Robot. Admittedly, these are somewhat older games and compatibility layers like Wine and Proton tend to work best with older games. And, technically, I didn’t need Proton for some of these. I’ve run Street Fighter IV and Good Robot with Wine, back before Proton was a thing. Getting Street Fighter IV running under Wine was a colossal pain in the ass though and it had a tendency to crash to desktop even at the best of times. With Proton, however, the game just works. I didn’t have to do anything complicated, difficult, or time-consuming in order to get it set up and it never crashes to desktop. It doesn’t replicate the Windows experience flawlessly–neither Proton nor Wine seems capable of solving the problem that 64-bit Linux just doesn’t get along with the 32-bit *.wmv files that Street Fighter IV uses for its pre-rendered cinematics—but it’s very, very close. Good Robot of course works perfectly. Kudos to Shamus and company.

      My view is that Proton is a step forward for Linux gaming, but it’s not a miracle or a magical cure-all. You shouldn’t buy a game with the expectation that it will work flawlessly with Proton. As with Wine, and as with most things Linux, really, it pays to do a little homework first. If you’re interested in running a Windows-native game on Linux using Proton, check ProtonDB to learn about other players’ experiences before you buy it. You may be disappointed to learn that the game doesn’t work well with Proton, but that’s better than buying the game and finding out the hard way.

  5. Asdasd says:

    I think you make a good points about business and logistics games, but abstraction can have its issues too. I remember being unwelcomely ejected from my immersion in one of the A-Train games when I realised one route to profit was just to buy cheap land and fill it with train stations. No trains, no tracks – the stations themselves generated income just by existing. I guess they were selling a lot of bottled water and John Grisham novels.

    .. hasn’t every browser worth its salt already used ctrl-tab / ctrl-shift-tab for switching between browser tabs for a decade or so?

    1. Lino says:

      There’s an EU subsidies joke to be made here, but I really don’t want to violate the No-Politics rule!

      1. Asdasd says:

        in the interest of respecting the no-politics rule, I strongly suggest you don’t search for ‘Yes Minister: The Empty Hospital’ on youtube ;D

    2. Chris says:

      Firefox has CTRL+TAB for going through your tabs. No idea why microsoft edge didnt have such a basic feature. But then again, its microsoft. What i always hated about explorer (the first times i was forced to use it) was that it would show tabs as being their own instances of IE in the taskbar. So if you clicked the IE button it would pop up the tabs as separate windows which you had to select one from.

      1. Lino says:

        OMG, I just discovered this works on Chrome, too! Thank you for sharing! This is going to help so much!

        1. John says:

          I only recently discovered Control-Tab myself, but I find that it works on a lot of programs, including the text editors and IDEs that I use. I was under the impression that it was a fairly standard (though apparently obscure) thing.

      2. Robyrt says:

        Ctrl+Tab works for Edge too. Microsoft is concerned about the 98% of users who don’t know that shortcut, but still spend most of their time inside browser tabs, effectively locking them out of the “quick context switch” keyboard shortcut.

      3. tmtvl says:

        I would like to jump in to state that checking out Mozilla’s Firefox Shortcuts page is always worth it.

  6. Tektotherriggen says:

    Mini Metro solved the issue of transport loads several years ago. Trains run a fixed loop, and passengers are smart enough to use those trains to get where they want to go, including waiting at interchange stations. Sounds like Voxel Tycoon should hire them as consultants or license that code module.

  7. BlueHorus says:

    This machine needs to be open to anyone in the house without a password or access to my face, and if this update “fixes” this arrangement then I’ll lose hours of productivity trying to undo the mess.

    Come now, Shamus, you just need a mask in the shape of your face that you leave beside the computer. Then your family can log in whenever they want!

    Or better yet, just set a DIFFERENT mask as the one your computer recognises for log-ins and you keep beside it. Maybe your machine could become the property of Skeletor or Emperor Palpatine?

    1. raifield says:

      I’m pretty sure Shamus is wrong here. Microsoft Hello doesn’t require your face at all. Microsoft Hello supports facial recognition if you have a camera (I don’t), a fingerprint if you have a reader (I use this), or a simple PIN which simply replaces your account’s password with presumably something easier to remember. And all this is optional: the requirement to use Windows Hello can be toggled off or on and is off by default, at least on my machine.

      It’s possible he has early access to a future release I don’t, but I don’t see where facial recognition is mandatory, nor how that would even work. Not everyone has a webcam.

      So…not sure what the problem is here, exactly.

      1. Daimbert says:

        I think the fear when we see things like this is that Microsoft is rather notorious for making things mandatory even though some of its users can’t use it since it doesn’t think that people might not want to use such wonderful features, and eventually will often at a minimum make that the default without providing any real information about how to NOT use it. As an example, my new laptop started with the entire “Log in with your Microsoft account because that’s just so wonderful and convenient so why WOULDN’T you use that?” line, and it took me a bit of work and some consternation to get it set to a local login instead.

      2. bubba0077 says:

        Yeah, Hello doesn’t require facial recognition at all.

        And the advantage of the PIN is it is local, so it doesn’t have to be the password used for the (remote) MS account (and doesn’t have to send it over the internet). You can even turn on alpha characters and treat it as a normal password (though it will still call it a “PIN”). I think I mentioned this previously when Shamus was complaining about connecting to MS accounts (though I was late to the comment section on that one and it may not have been seen).

      3. Shamus is just being an ol’grumpy man. :P

        I always update as soon as I can (so that Windows doesn’t decide to update when I’m playing a game, or writing an email or programming).
        I can’t recall ever having issues with small or big updates with Windows 10, and I have Win10 on 4 machines here, some with a mix of home and pro and three are the international English variant and one is Norwegian.

        Only Issue I’ve had is that I have to uninstall Windows Mixed Reality (the “drivers” under it’s own area in system settings, not to be confused with the WMR app) to run some OS updates (so if anyone has issues with a update failing to apply, try that). I wish the WMR devs at Microsoft would fix that.

  8. Joshua says:

    As far as THE REAL WORLD, the conclusion (including the “Final Exam”) to my MBA program a year ago was a kinda video-game like business simulation program called Capsim. Just, you know, no real graphics or anything.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA2iUtVc4tA

    I think of the four human and two AI teams, the AI kicked all of our butts.

  9. Rho says:

    News alert: Amazon canceled their LotR mmo, which had been expected next year.

  10. Philadelphus says:

    Hmm, a bit disappointing about Voxel Tycoon. I’ve been watching it for a while now, but mostly because it looks very similar to OpenTTD, and that’s a game I only really play in chill multiplayer sessions with a friend. Not sure if I’m interested in it as a singleplayer game. I suppose I should watch some footage before deciding, though. As a kid I loved micromanaging, but as I get older I find it appeals less and less. (And of course, one man’s hyper-efficient logistics system is another man’s micromanagement hell.)

    I’ll bet that “Alt-Tab through browser tabs!” ‘feature’ is made by those same people who smugly shriek in horror if they see you with more than 5 tabs open in a browser. Sorry, some of us need/want/like a hundred tabs open at once, and don’t want to have to cycle through them to switch between the handful of actual programs we have open. At least I, personally, won’t have to deal with it (being on Debian).

    Also, is it just me, or has Dark Mode become some sort of weird “thing” lately? People act like apps without it are literally unusable and stuck in the Stone Age or something, and if you don’t think it’s the One True Mode then you’re apparently one of those Light Mode heathens. Or maybe it’s just my social circle.

    1. John says:

      I spent my teenage years using a computer whose default means of displaying text was to put white characters over a black background. To be fair, it was only an 8-bit machine. As it was more than sufficient for my schoolwork, my parents saw no particular need for anything better. When we finally acquired a fancy Pentium computer in the late 90s with 256-color graphics and a word processor that showed black text on a white background, I considered it a major step up–which it obviously was. It seems very strange to me that so many people are clamoring to go back to what I still regard as the primitive times.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      I’m pretty sure all the Dark Mode stuff is because some large portion of devs either (end) work in the evening, or have some kind of visual sensitivity to bright lights. I personally can’t have a sun-lit window in front of me, and bright lights need to be up and out of my line of sight, and I worked with someone who had to have dark-mode for everything and sometimes wore sunglasses if they were in a too-bright room (so, like me, but even more sensitive). I’m hopeful these different modes will make companies actually think about usability, and making it easy to re-color things for different visual needs. Actually usable font sizes would be next on my list; I’ll continue to pray to Cthulhu for this blessing… :)

      As for alt-tab through browser tabs – don’t other browsers have dedicated button-combos for this already? I think in OSX, it might even be an OS-wide button combo, so that tabs in your browser, or different image-tabs in Photoshop can be switched the same way. Having Windows use the same buttons for different levels of abstraction makes me think they either don’t know what they’re doing, or are assuming people want to have all their tabs in separate windows of Edge. Maybe that’s a default setting Shamus overrode? Even then, MS should have remembered they have a whole feature-set of tabs, not windows. :|

    3. Dude Guyman says:

      If the rest of your computer is using dark mode because you work later in the evening or at night and you’re in a dark environment, or it’s just an aesthetic thing and you’re working in the daytime but the rest of your screen is color graded towards dark colours, then opening a huge bright white square in the middle of that field of black is essentially like shining a flashlight directly into the user’s eyes. In a dark environment, this can be a sharp stab of physical pain and actually does make the app literally unusable.

      It’s much less obnoxious to have a large black patch put down over your white screen then the reverse, which is why it’s pretty strange to me that light mode users often seem quite pushy against dark mode. Especially since there aren’t a lot of things that default to dark mode, and the objection seems to be that dark mode is being added as an option.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Interesting, and a fair point. Maybe I’m just unusual for being a night owl who doesn’t use my computer in a dark room, and thus doesn’t have strong feelings either way. I don’t mind it existing—more choice is better for everyone—it just seemed to be my experience lately that people were getting pushy about it. *shrug*

    4. tmtvl says:

      I used to be a dark mode user, but after checking the research I reduced the brightness of my monitor until it matched my background illumination (white on screen should be as bright as white in the room) and switched to light mode.

      I often hear people complain about light mode being bad in a dark room and I wonder if they never heard that looking at a screen in a dark room will destroy their eyesight.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Not a doctor but this is actually a common misconception or at the very least the common belief grossly exaggerates the long term impact of staring at a monitor in the dark.

        Anyway, I have an eye condition* that among other things makes me light sensitive so I appreciate the proliferation of dark modes in recent years.

        *In case someone wants to get smart about my first statement it’s genetics based and not related to eyestrain.

      2. Blue+Painted says:

        A screen in a dark room … as in going to the movies?

  11. John says:

    I’ve never been much for tycoon games. I played a little bit of one of the Railroad Tycoon games–probably Railroad Tycoon II–back in the late 90s and while I liked it well enough I liked it mostly for the atmosphere rather than for the gameplay. Watching steam trains run through the forest to the accompaniment of period music was oddly soothing. The nice thing about the game, as I recall, is that you were mostly concerned with laying track and scheduling trains. I don’t think you had to worry at all about how people and things got on and off the trains or what happened to them or what they were doing when they weren’t on the train. All of that was somebody else’s problem. Thus, my extremely poorly-informed recommendation for a tycoon-type game would be one of the Railroad Tycoon series.

    The problem with tycoon games, as I see it, is that they tend to cater to the type of gamer who wants more–more content, more features, more control, more everything. They’re the kind of people who demand that if a thing exists in the game then the player must be able to micro-manage that thing. They’re more common in niche genres and tend to predominate in the fandoms for games with pretensions toward realism. They are also one of the reasons that the rest of us aren’t allowed to have casual flight sims any more.

  12. Echo Tango says:

    I’d like one from a company that DIDN’T create massive ongoing security problems and force a generation of web developers to route around their non-compliant browser with ugly hacks.

    You’ve phrased this like it’s in the past… But like, IE is used by a large enough percentage of some corporate environments, that it still needs to be supported. At least the hacks are all mostly located in centralized libraries that try to seamlessly shim modern functionality and fixes into a broken browser for you. :E

    1. Lars says:

      My company got rid of IE just this year. and now we are forced to use the Edge on programs 25 years optimized to work on IE. Ring around the Rosie.

    2. Bubble181 says:

      I *need* to use IE, Edge, and at least one decent browser (Chrome, FF, whathaveyou) for my work every day. Heaven forbid we try to get things working across systems.

      For bonus points, I need two of those open both in and out of my VDI, and one additional through a second VPN. So I have 6 browser windows open just to have access to all the things I need to work. It’s awesome.

  13. Retsam says:

    But Microsoft abandoned Internet Explorer when they got bored with it in the aughts, and that caused headaches and nightmares for web developers for years. I remember cursing them in the early days of this site when I couldn’t get things to look consistent across the browsers, and IE was always the maverick.

    Speaking as a web developer, I don’t think this is particular accurate, particularly the “abandoned when they got bored” bit.

    Yes, there was an era where IE basically just did what it wanted in the 2000s. They had a functional monopoly, as Netscape was dead or dying, Firefox was new (2004) (and… well… Firefox) – they didn’t have real competition until Chrome came onto the scene until 2008. So basically the IE6 and IE7 era they didn’t pay much attention to “web standards”.

    (And, yes, the blog did start in 2005 so probably the worst time for “web standards”)

    But from IE8 on, Microsoft was pretty scrupulous about keeping up with web standards. IE8 was still not great, fully passed the Acid2 test but not the (at-the-time fairly new) Acid3 test.

    The main reason IE continued to be a problem for web developers isn’t that IE didn’t support standards, or because Microsoft “got bored of it”, it’s for the single reason that it didn’t auto-update. It doesn’t matter what standards a particular version of IE supported at launch, the web was constantly adding new stuff, and the fact that some of your visitors would be using IE (and often not even the newest version) meant constant compatibility issues. (The joy of working in a platform where you bring the code, but the user brings the compiler…)

    And that’s the main thing Edge brings to the table from a web-development perspective. It auto-updates like the other browsers, so it keeps up on features.

    Meanwhile, in 2021, we’re again in a bit of a tenuous position because once again we’ve got a single browser with basically a supermonopoly on usage. Chrome dominates the usages charts, and that’s putting it back into the IE6 position of “I can do what I want because I’m the top dog”.

    And it’s a shame (and somewhat ironic) that so many people avoiding Edge due to lingering “IE BAD” sentiment is actually directly contributing to the exact same dynamic that made “IE BAD” a problem in the first place.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      What was wrong with Firefox back in the day? The only thing I know of that they were missing, was Chrome’s ability to just run in user-mode from a normal download, but they pionered some features, that other browsers copied later. (e.g. tabs, addons)

      1. Erik says:

        Nothing wrong with it at all – I’ve used it continuously since its inception, upgrading from my prior install of Mozilla. But when Chrome came out, it rendered faster at first and was the new hotness. Firefox caught back up shortly, but Google has been very shiny for quite a while now, and the technophiles adore them (the actual techs are much more mixed in opinion).

        Since then, it’s just been out of fashion – it’s the browser your tech uncle or dad used to use instead of IE back in the day, but now everyone uses Chrome because everyone uses Chrome and… yeah. *eyeroll* I still use and recommend it, and the Firefox Focus browser for the phone is a seriously privacy-centered browser for the phone (iOS, at least).

      2. Retsam says:

        Nothing’s ever been really wrong with Firefox, I think it’s just that they’ve never managed to snag any significant chunk of the market. I don’t know if it’s because their interface feels slightly clunky, or if it’s the fact that it came from an “unknown” company, or if they just didn’t have enough time on market before Chrome came along and ate its lunch.

      3. Paulo Marques says:

        Too hard to impossible for corporate IT to lock down and force the start page on.

    2. Kyte says:

      As a web developer, I’ve had things work in Chrome that don’t elsewhere, which is always infuriating because I hate having to cross-check across browsers.

      Conversely, I’ve had websites that don’t work outside of Chrome because other developers don’t feel like doing the cross-checking either.

  14. djw says:

    Today my tablet rebooted into windows update during the intermission between two lectures, and remained “updating” for 40 minutes. So far it doesn’t sound like anything beyond a small annoyance, but…

    I’m the one teaching the class (online) and I use my tablet during the lecture to run powerpoint and give me a surface to write on. I frequently schedule blank pages in the powerpoint so that I can simply write out equations on the page just like I used to do back in the old days when I stood in front of a blackboard in the same room as my students.

    In any case, I could NOT figure out how to hard reset my tablet (its a surface) so I had to improvise a lecture on my desktop computer for 30 minutes while I waited for the damn thing to update (with no indication whatsoever that 30 minutes was the time that it would take). This was infuriating and horribly disorienting.

    Thanks Windows!

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Apple’s just as bad; There’s at least two “restart your computer for updates” buttons, and one of them starts downloading the updates first. I think it also auto-restarts at the end of this long, indeterminate process, but it’s been a while since I’ve done it.

      Linux (at least Ubuntu), despite all the problems I’ve had with games, bluetooth, and headphone compatibility, is really good with updates. It’ll show you a list of what’s going to get updated, downloads everything and performs the updates in the background, and the computer keeps running just fine without a rebstart after everything’s done. (With the exception of major OS updates, which need to restart your machine. But those still give you a chance to save your work and get ready, before hitting the “restart button”! :)

      1. Geebs says:

        No, Apple doesn’t lock anything and doesn’t force restarts. Updates usually download in the background so you just hit the button when you’re ready to install.

        I agree the Linux update experience is smoother (although I can never remember whether to upgrade before I update or vice versa) although the number of times I’ve had to reinstall the entire OS due to a software installation going awry is significantly higher on Linux.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          Update before you upgrade, or you will…break your save? Hmm.

          Upgrade before update, must’ve been up too late? I’ll…I’ll keep working on it.

        2. Echo Tango says:

          I use a Macbook for work, and the button has absolutely started downloads before restarting. Maybe it’s different when it’s on a non-laptop, but the reason I remember it is because it’s so non-sensical, compared to the smooth experience I get on my home computer.

          1. Geebs says:

            Ah OK, if the problem is that updates aren’t pre-downloaded in the background, there’s a checkbox for that under System Preferences > Software Update > Advanced

            1. Echo Tango says:

              All I’ve got is (all checked already):
              – Check for updates
              – Download new updates when available
              – Install macOS updates
              – Install app updates from the App Store
              – —–
              – Install system data files and security updates

              I think the issue might be big OS updates that need to reboot, vs all the smaller ones or ones that don’t reboot. The UI for the updates and restarts pop-ups are misleading, in how they’re worded. I don’t have them in front of me, but I don’t think any of the three (?) pop-ups have different phrasings depending on if it’s going to start downloading, or if it’s going to install updates it already downloaded, or if it’s going to download and then restart. (They all just say “download” or “restart” but always seem to do something else, or a combination.) Every time I click one of these, I have to hesitate, and wonder, is this the pop-up that mostly does what it says it’s going to do, or the one that’s going to lock me into a bios-ish-level update where my computer’s unusable when I thought it was just going to download, or is it going to download updates to then politely prompt me to update and then to restart? I don’t think I’ve ever been in the third situation on this MacBook; It’s always a wasted 0.5 to 1.5 hours of my day.

  15. Vladius says:

    I’m disappointed the Eh! Steve! podcast isn’t a Homestar Runner podcast.

  16. Henson says:

    I tried using Edge once, when I was helping someone else on their computer. I couldn’t perform some basic functions without creating a Microsoft account. No thanks.

    Firefox is still pretty great.

  17. Erik says:

    Two items, neither significant enough to affect the content of the column but both significant enough to make me feel like you’re raging against the wrong things:

    1) Thankfully, Microsoft *didn’t* create a new browser with Edge – as you noted, this is not their strength. It’s just a re-skin of Chromium, the open-source version of Google Chrome. Unfortunately, as such I’m certain it has all of Google’s trackers *plus* Microsoft’s own trackers. (This is part of why I use Firefox.) However, it should stay as current as Chrome itself does, and shouldn’t degrade into a pile of ancient cruft laced with attempted poison pills like IE did.

    2) I understand that the feature list is lacking, but the real reason to upgrade is not for features but to fix all the security holes that have been found over the last month (or six, in your case). Usually, it’s a list of a couple dozen per month. (Yes, I hate all the Microsoft attempts to track me on my computer; I do not have a Microsoft account associated with my computer, and it “helpfully” attempts to get me to log into one every time I upgrade. I skip, it continues, and our detente remains intact.) (I do not even have a camera for this system, so they will fail if they try to force me to use my face.) But even within my hardware-firewalled, script-sandboxed FireFox fortress, I value the security upgrades enough to do them monthly.

    1. baud says:

      Microsoft did create a new browser with Edge, but then switched to Chronium-based. I think I used the original version once or twice and it had less features than IE (or at least I missed a few features that I regularly use).

      1. Kyte says:

        They adopted Chromium because they could not keep up parity with Chrome and Google’s sites and people would just switch away if their favorite sites (many of them Google-controlled) cannot work on Edge.
        There was also the issue that old Edge would update through Windows Update, further slowing updates that would allow for feature parity.

        Edge itself was a project to make a completely new browser engine that didn’t need to keep whole layers of compatibility for the sake of line of business apps. This meant its early releases were standards-compliant, but also limited in other features, which further pushed people away from adoption.

  18. baud says:

    The only tycoon game I played was Transport Tycoon Deluxe and as far as my memories go, there wasn’t the kind of issues you report: good trucks are type specific, truck (and other vehicle types) choice matters as it’s usually a trade between speed and up front cost and you can store unlimited amount of goods in stations.

    1. Erik says:

      Last year I played a lot of the modern version of TTD, Transport Fever 2, and it doesn’t have unlimited storage and does have all the annoyances Shamus wrote about. While I understand and don’t mind the need to set up routes and choose vehicles, that’s exactly the part that Shamus finds uninteresting, and the part he finds interesting (optimizing full production chains) is just not what the game is concentrating on. Yes, you can get factories to full capacity, but since you don’t own them you don’t get any benefit from anything except carrying their cargo. And the AI for the cargo is still not good unless you’re willing to micromanage the stations, though you have a few more tools. (Still can’t purge the contents of a car without deleting it, though.)

      For someone looking for a production game, TF2/TTD isn’t it. It’s a logistics/transportation game, not a production game, and they are different.

  19. Grimwear says:

    I bought Jurassic World Evolution when it was on sale for 90% off and I ran into the same type of problems. In the tutorial, make a herbivore. Then get told it needs food to eat (even though there’s a bunch of trees and vegetation in the enclosure). Ok fine, put in a feeder. Dinosaur still hungry. So at this point I google and it turns out the feeders don’t just work. You need to manually fill them by sending a ranger in. Why? What’s the point of hiring and having rangers if they can’t even feed the dinosaurs without me stopping my building to tell them when. Needless to say I never got past the tutorial or launched the game again.

    Also since I’ve been using this site to be mad about Age of Empires 3 more mini rant. So all my progress from the US challenge was getting deleted. Never got a fix from the devs but I went and played the first 2 campaign missions, then went and rushed the first 3 challenges and lo and behold now my progress is getting saved. So each challenge has a fun little story or blurb about US history for the challenges and the one for Georgia makes mention of a story that back in 1540 a native taught a guy how gold was mined, melted, and refined by his people. Except…according to the devs Natives didn’t mine or use gold and that was their reasoning for reworking the Native factions for the definitive edition. In fact they dedicated an entire pop up to explain this change when you boot the game for the first time. Which is it devs?

    1. Philadelphus says:

      I’ve been having that “progress resetting” bug with the 50 states challenge too! Huh, I think I did the first campaign mission when I first picked up the game, should see if that’s still intact…and maybe try rushing three challenges at once. Thanks.

      1. Grimwear says:

        So I did challenge #5 yesterday, got the unlocked profile reward, then quit. This morning I log in and lost the #5 completion progress though I still have the reward unlocked. Replayed 5, quit, logged back in, lost progress. So I did #5 and #6 one after the other and exited and entered, so far my progress is still saved. Unfortunately for some bizarre reason now when the ai offers to resign and I accept…nothing happens. The “OUT” message that used to appear (literally yesterday) on the score screen when I accept doesn’t pop. Which means every skirmish win I now do is a trade one where I’m forced to wait 5 minutes for it to finish. I guess I could also build ships and go hunt down all the fishing boats but I don’t play water.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          Hmm, I rushed the first three challenges yesterday, and they’ve been reset today. :( Too bad, I actually thought it was a neat idea to allow people to unlock DLC content via in-game challenges if they didn’t want to/couldn’t pay for it.

          1. Grimwear says:

            That’s really unfortunate. Honestly this remaster is probably the worst (of the few) I’ve played. Especially since this is a giant, boring, tedious, garbage event that takes untold hours to complete for a 5 dollar piece of dlc and they can’t do something as basic as save progress. I mean AOE1 DE is literal garbage to play with terrible pathing and extreme difficulty spikes with easy ai being harder than hard ai for some missions but AOE3 is just…demoralizing and unfun.

  20. Rosseloh says:

    Require Windows Hello sign-in for Microsoft accounts.

    Well, fortunately, you can at least slightly relax. Do you have your windows linked with an associated Microsoft account, or is it just a standard “local” user profile? If the latter, you won’t have any issues. If the former….well Windows Hello is more than just the face recognition stuff, it’s also like the dumb pin numbers and shit.

    What happens is, when you have your system set up with a Microsoft account, and do this upgrade, it will force you to set up a pin the next time you log in. FORTUNATELY, if you uncheck the “require Windows Hello” box in the user profile section of Settings, you can remove it again later – but you may very well have to set one to get that far in the first place. It’s absolutely retarded, especially since so many people set a pin (because it forces them to), think that pin is their password….and then forget their *actual* password, which causes all sorts of fun when the computer suddenly can’t use the pin anymore (normally related to something in the TPA chip or secure boot…regardless, it’s a problem I see a lot working in the repair business).

    Anyway, while it will try its damndest, you *can* get around the crap it’s trying to pull. It’s just annoying.

  21. Sleeping Dragon says:

    So for the record I generally don’t play tycoon games precisely because I find them boring with too much busywork. Having said that I can’t help but feel that the overall tone of the post is just a touch on the “needlessly hostile” side. Again, I totally get that the genre doesn’t work for you but the phrasing is such as if you consider the micromanagement a mistake in basic game design rather than a feature targetted a particular audience.

    1. Lino says:

      Really? What about the bit at the end where he says:

      Fans of the genre seem to like it. So all of this negativity shouldn’t be seen as a criticism of the game as much as a commentary on the genre as a whole.

      For me, it’s not fun and I don’t get it. But if you dig this genre, then maybe it’s worth a look. Like I said, the art is great.

      Even if he doesn’t consider micromanagement fun, I think it’s clear it’s just a personal taste thing. Or at least that’s how I interpret it…

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I know, but Shamus is usually very tactful to the point of tiptoeing around this stuff so I thought I’d mention my impression this time.

  22. “I’m sure Cal Kestus needs to hydrate and relieve himself, bathe, brush his teeth, clean the mud out of the grooves in his lightsaber, sleep, launder his outfit, dry out his boots, and eat.”

    I agree. Things like that in a game like that is best suited for cutscenes (thoughts, dialogs could occur at the same time).

    Also what you are pointing out as the issue (especially with tutorials) in games is that you have a choice that isn’t really a choice.
    I’m not talking about the illusion of choice (which usually gives you 2-3 choices that is just flavours of the same option), but that the devs implemented something in such a way that it seems you can choose more than one way to do something, but if you do then you break either the tutorial or the game itself somehow.
    If you are unlucky you can undo and only waste some time, if unlucky you need to go back to an older save. Or worst case it’s game breaking and you have to start over from the beginning.

    I see this in FPS/Adventure/RPG games too, you have control of the character and try to do something but you are “doing the wrong thing” and the game wont’ let you continue until you do it right. In that case it might as well have been turned into a cutscene instead.

  23. David F. Ellrod says:

    Random question: How does one submit questions to the Diecast mailbag?

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Hehe. The email is in the header image (at least for the normal show, when it isn’t the unplugged edition), and Shamus spells it out at the end of every show. It’s not listed as plain text in order to try to dissuade spammers.

      1. David F. Ellrod says:

        Aha — should have looked at the header for other weeks! Dissuading spammers I can certainly understand. Thanks for the clarification!

  24. “The first was when I played the original Capitalism (1995) sometime in the late 90s. Then Capitalism II.”

    I remember the Capitalism games being OK for the micromanagement things mentioned here. You had to set up the layout for each new factory / shop / etc., but you could also save templates so you didn’t have to do that manually each time. And there was no transport modelling whatsoever, just distance-based costs for each good. The micromanagement headaches came later, when you had lots of buildings to keep track of.

  25. Mark says:

    Just a heads up regarding facial recognition login. I know you’re probably not super concerned with this, but if you use your face or a finger print to login, the police are entitled to use your face and facial recognition to unlock your devices, but they are not entitled to have you give them the password/PIN.

    To be clear, this applies to the US. This is because the 5th Amendment protects you from being required to share information in your own head, but there is no protection against seeing or using outward facing things like your face and fingerprints.

    So in a sense, facial recognition and fingerprint security are tangibly less secure than a password or PIN in a very meaningful sense.

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