Diecast #354: Blender Sandwich

By Shamus Posted Monday Sep 6, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 79 comments

I like how LABOR DAY is the one day we’ve all agreed to skip work. It makes a nice companion to Thanksgiving, where – thanks to the shopping nightmare – is a day defined mostly by avarice and gluttony. Maybe we should add a few more inverted holidays. On President’s Day, nobody is allowed to be the president. Of anything. I’ll leave the rest of you to figure out how we should un-observe the other holidays.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:

00:00 Blender Adventures

The device I was talking about in this segment is properly called a Galton Board or a Bean Machine, but I couldn’t remember that so I was calling it a “Pachinko Machine”, which is similar, but not quite the same thing. If you’re curious, this is the Captain D video about the magical sorting Galton Board I was talking about.

Anyway, below are my first few renders. You can see they’re low quality because I didn’t think it was worth the time to render such crude first efforts in glorious HD. Also, I had the friction set too lowZero is indeed too low. in the last one, so the balls slide to the bottom rather than rolling. Again, not worth the time it would take to re-render.

Link (YouTube)

Here is ten minutes of me using Blender:


Oh. I get it. That’s amazing it can do that.


Erm. I guess I pressed I button to hide it somehow? Nice tool. I’ll have to remember that for when I WANT to hide something.


I don’t know why that’s happening. But I guess I found a workaround.

Imagine four days of THAT rollercoaster. I’m cycling between impressed, outraged, and baffled. Blender might be the greatest open-source tool ever written. It might also cause me to have a stroke.

15:22 Watch from Aliens

Link (YouTube)

Double the watch for twice the time.

22:20 TI-99-4/A and the TI-89

I make fun of marketing people on this site a lot, but credit where it’s due: Without a marketing team, you end up with consumer product names that look like part numbers.

29:51 Before We Leave-Finally

Hexagons are the Bestagons.

42:27 DaVinci Resolve 1% Compression Ratio

This is the digital equivalent of when you order a product from Amazon and it’s a thing you want inside a Styrofoam container inside a glossy box inside shrink wrap inside a bunch of wadded-up filler inside a cardboard box. Environmental concerns aside, this is a waste of my time.

50:41 Mailbag: Games the Push you to Other Games

Dear Diecast,

I was doing a Dark Souls 2 all achievements run, but I’ve decided to pause it to play some Dragon’s Dogma. For whatever reason playing Dark Souls always makes me want to play DD, which is quite odd since no other action game does that.

Do you guys have a game or series like that? Which when you play it makes you want to play a specific other game?





[1] Zero is indeed too low.

From The Archives:

79 thoughts on “Diecast #354: Blender Sandwich

  1. bobbert says:

    CGPGrey started a cult?

    I wonder how that will turn out.

  2. Chris says:

    When people praise hexagons, did they have a collective brainfart so they could forget FO1 and 2? Because running from top to bottom in that game just looks stupid.

    1. Wolf says:

      *shrug* Not as stupid as running diagonally in a square grid. Any tiling will have directions that work less than ideal.
      It is then the map makers job to not have the player run mainly along such suboptimal axes.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      I never minded the hexagons in Fallout 1 and 2, because much of the world was just rubble and nature. The only places it really looked out of place were in the less-ruined vaults, and those were really rare. However, I think using hex grids in games is largely pointless, since the computer can just calculate the distances and paths automatically, and can show those to the player if needed. So much of human life is just square grids – streets, houses, apartrment buildings. The only time you need to worry about hexes or triangular grids is if you’re trying to pack more things into a crate. I’m assuming city planners also add some cross-ways roads occasionally in cities, to cut down on travel distance.

      1. John says:

        I won’t argue that grids are the right choice for all games or even all turn-based games, but I nevertheless think that grids have two very important virtues. First, it’s always very clear where the player can and can’t position his units. Second, units never get stuck on the level geometry. Grids offer clarity and protect us from bugs in ways that non-grids do not.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          I should have written that better – I want square grids, not hex grids. Non-grid systems get very messy, almost immediately. Square grids work from the small-scale chess-board, all the way up to large-scale parking lots and warehouses. Everything’s some kind of square! :)

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I think we might reach consensus if you allow for diagonal movement between the squares.

            1. Asdasd says:

              Diagonal movement can create an incentive to move diagonally as much as possible, as you cover space quicker that way. Not saying it’s wrong or right or whatever, but if you’re using squares to make nice orderly maps with straight corridors and whatnot, it does kind of lead back to the ‘weird-looking navigation’ problem that bothers some people with hexes.

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                And zig-zaging to get from corner of the room to the other looks natural?

                1. Asdasd says:

                  No, but rooms aren’t usually built with doors in the corners either..

          2. Tuck says:

            Come to Europe, we’re not so fixated on squares and rectangles here! :)

          3. John says:

            I enjoy games with both square and hex grids. As long as a game’s maps are designed with the form of the grid in mind, either system is fine. I do think that square grids are a little more natural for indoor maps (and other maps with lots of right angles) and that hex grids are a little more natural for large-scale outdoor maps though.

  3. tmtvl says:

    Inverted holidays? We could spend Christmas not thinking about Christ and just engage in meaningless consumerism. Very original, that, I know.

    1. Syal says:

      I spend Mother’s Day watching Coraline and Father’s Day watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

    2. Philadelphus says:

      The Fourth of July is instead the Four Times July.

      1. tmtvl says:

        On July 4th, celebrate the treaty of Lancaster instead of the American Revolution.

        1. Vernal.ancient says:

          Celebrate independence day by sending weepy letters to the Queen of England begging her to take the states back

          1. Lars says:

            Maybe a bit dark: On September 11th moan the assassination of Salvadore Allendde instead of the event 28 years later.

    3. Syal says:

      What other holidays do we have?

      Veteran’s Day is all about trying something you’ve never done before.

      Memorial Day is about getting blackout drunk.

      Martin Luther King Day is… actually any joke here seems like it would be in poor taste, so, I guess just pick your favorite. Quietly.

      Talk Like A Pirate Day is all about doing sick ninja flips.

      1. Mr. Wolf says:

        Am I ever so glad they renamed Armistice Day.

        I forget why.

      2. Philadelphus says:

        St. Valentine’s Day is about…being born? What’s the opposite of being martyred?

        …okay, fine, it’s Singles Awareness Day.

  4. Syal says:

    Not too many games that make me want to play other games, if they do it’s usually because they’re a worse version of the other game and I don’t tend to play them for long.

    Various power-up roguelikes make me want to play Binding of Isaac Rebirth again, which lasts until the first curse in Binding of Isaac Rebirth at which point I go “oh right, that’s why I don’t play this anymore”.

    Most turn-based RPGs these days make me want to play Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass again, and then Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass makes me want to play Final Fantasy 5. Which also makes me want to play Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass. It’s… what’s the opposite of a vicious circle? Like, an empowering circle.

    I don’t play shooters these days, but if I did I’m pretty sure they would make me want to play Halo. That’s the last shooter I had a really good time playing.

    I guess Phantom Brave counts, makes me want to play Disgaea 5. Borderline there because it’s nearly a Disgaea game already.

    1. John says:

      It’s… what’s the opposite of a vicious circle?

      I’ve always heard it called a virtuous circle, possibly for reasons of alliteration.

      1. Thomas says:

        I tend to hear ‘virtuous cycle’ a little more.

        In German vicious cycle is “Devil’s circle” which works so well I wish we had it in English too.

    2. tmtvl says:

      Besides the DS*/DD** thing, playing a D&D*** RTWP**** RPG***** always makes me want to play ToEE******.

      Its version of the battle system just fits my tastes better, it’s probably the best turn-based system I’ve tried.

      * Dark Souls
      ** Dragon’s Dogma
      *** Dungeons & Dragons
      **** Real Time With Pause
      ***** Role-Playing Game
      ****** Temple of Elemental Evil

    3. Abnaxis says:

      I find myself waffling between Factorio, Dyson Sphere Program, and Dwarf Fortress, whenever I get the urge to play a factory sim game. They’re all good in different ways but scratch the same itch so I’ll (for example) start playing DSP, then I want to play with trains (logistics stations just aren’t the same) so switch to Factorio, then really want to dive into a megaproject and/or casually murder demihumans while I’m base building so I’ll swap to DF. If I’m not burnt out on sims in general by then I’ll definitely be burnt out on 2D graphics so I swap back to DSP for the pretty stars.

    4. Syal says:

      I’ve also completed Final Fantasy X-2 for the first time*, and apart from enjoying New Game+ a lot more than I thought I would (that is to say, at all), the weird decisions and jankiness is starting to make me want to replay Final Fantasy 8, the grandmaster of janky lunacy.

      *(waiting for the next This Week I’m Playing post, I have feelings on FFX-2 both complex, mixed, and lengthy.)

      1. BlueHorus says:

        FF8 was great. I mean, fuck only knows what was going on in that story*, but the needless complexity of the Junction System allowed you to break the game (and/or your mind), you could go to special places to grab the best spells early on, and by fighting the winged monster in the lamp you could turn off random encounters.
        Oh, and the card game was pretty fun except for when randomised deck rule got everywhere.

        *I think I remember the gist, though: All the female characters like Squall but he’s too misereable to get the hint, Jumping Spider Robot, you punch a guy while hanging from a rope, there’s a scene where the cast all realise that they’d gone to the same orphanage but forgot because of GFs, you go to space and the moon vomits monsters on people, and then an evil sorceress wants to destroy time. Or something.

        1. Syal says:

          The best part of the orphanage scene is they just make up the GF thing and accept that explanation, and the game never mentions it again to confirm or deny.

          1. tmtvl says:

            But the GF thing is mentioned in the lore as early as the very start of the game. It was available both from Squall’s computer in the classroom and in the lore available from the menu.

    5. GoStu says:

      I have a similar thought about the Binding of Isaac, although I rarely actually get tempted into it any more.

      I think it’s fair to call it the progenitor of a lot of ‘modern’ roguelikes/roguelites/roguewhateverterm games, but I think a lot of its successors have surpassed it. Isaac has a truly weird difficulty curve sometimes – with the right items, the game’s trivial bordering on boring. With the wrong items or just bad luck thrown at you, it can become a truly frustrating nigh-impossible slog.

      Getting hit with Curse of the Lost taking your minimap away combined with the ??? pill teleporting you around the rooms (and occasionally moving some rooms!) does not make the player feel like their time is valued. Picking up an item while under Curse of the Blind and getting something seriously detrimental is a ragequit-worthy moment. Ending up eight floors deep still doing the same DPS you started with against enemies with 5x the HP is a “screw this game, I’m uninstalling” kind of moment.

      I think the genre owes a lot to the Binding of Isaac, but there are a LOT of better games out there to spend your time with.

      1. Galad says:

        Thank you for the enlightening comment. While I’ve completely and utterly finished playing (with) it, for me there has been pretty much nothing as dopamine-inducing as a good 5 minutes in Nuclear Throne post-loop- after you beat the game once, you are jacked up with upgrades, and the best weapons you’ve found so far, likely the best you can have for your build, and now you suddenly fight against 5x more enemies.

        Also, very well done, Shamus and Paul, for that last couple of minutes of the diecast, highly entertaining as well <3

        1. GoStu says:

          Nuclear Throne is one of those roguelikes/lites/whatever that I like a lot more than Isaac now. The pace is absolutely relentless, but it’s so much fun.

          I haven’t done much looping – I think I made it partway through a single loop? I have a terrible track record with explosive weapons and blew myself up.

      2. Fizban says:

        Issac’s difficulty curve is heavily random, but it also has a lot of lower systems you can learn, manage, and leverage, along with base skill, to get pretty far in even a bad run- allowing a certain question of “do I keep trying on ‘hard mode’ and see if I get lucky, or bail out and start a new run?” Pills in particular have a learnable meta where you hit them early and often in the run until a certain point at which you either know what to avoid or the risk is no longer worth it and you start avoiding them. Arbitrarily being hit with random curses sucks and I agree that it’s one of the worst mechanics, but it’s funny you mention Curse of the Lost- it’s biggest penalty is a loss of time, which only matters if you’re trying to hit a speed benchmark (admittedly required for the furthest bosses and unlocks). And there are items you can prioritize or bank to mitigate some of the worst- a couple items that make you immune to and remove curses, a rune that removes curses, other runes and cards that will counter specific curses, etc.

        Meanwhile, I picked up Noita a little while back, and found it far, far more insulting to my time. Comments here were saying there’s “so much more than just getting to the end,” and indeed, they were right. Getting to the end requires skill and a hefty dose of luck to get the stuff you need, and you’re rewarded with “lol you’re dead.” What you’re actually supposed to do is scrape together endgame levels of power, and then completely abandon the ‘roguelike’ gameplay by building an uber drill to deliberately break out of bounds/backtrack, and go exploring a world easily 3-4x the size of the actual main path, full of tiny obtuse hints at mysterious things you can do, some of which require deciphering and translating the developers’ home language. In short: exactly the sort of thing that a reddit full of people hunting details for years during early access would love, generating a wiki that sounds cool as hell- and a giant waste of space for someone who just wants to play a cool wandcrafting roguelike or get anything done without cheating their ass off (and even then).

        Because even knowing all of that doesn’t actually help you finish. In order to get a better end (which makes no difference, the meat of the game seems to be a giant in-game and equally obtuse achievement tracker) you have to essentially go out and find and survive even more stuff than the already sufficiently difficult “main” game had, and then go through the endgame anyway but with little or no serious increase in resources. I ran into one spell unlock that was a near-cheese (but not good enough to go all the way) upgrade, but I think that was a fluke and most of them are lateral at best, so even wiki-diving for unlocks didn’t really improve the game.

        It’s like if someone took that bit where Binding of Issac had this cool secret that the dev wanted to be a big group project over a long period (and was mad that it was instantly hacked), and spun that out into the entire point of the game. Issac has some unlocks that require some serious bullshit retries+skill to get, but the vast majority of its content is much more reasonable. Unstoppable builds and infinite loops aren’t common, but happen enough to give you the practice needed to get further without them, and standard runs are done in 1-2 hours, sooner if you bail out of a bad run. Noita requires a lucky uber weapon, assembled over 1-2 hours, to even begin doing anything, and you can still be whittled down, and even if you get something that helps keep your hp up you can still be randomly one-shot. It’s a game I can only see being fully explored by people who were there from the beginning through all the updates, or manually scumming their saves, or both.

        Apparently I really felt like ranting about Noita again. I’d go play the new Binding of Issac, but it requires Windows 10, and eff that. I’d like to play some BoI-likes, but those I’ve tried went the “twin-stick shooter” route, which means I can’t play them because I hold gamepads at an angle and my right thumb is programmed for 3d look, not top-down long-range mobile aiming- it seems the flash game restriction that made BoI have a usable aiming method was a fluke.

        1. GoStu says:

          Yeah, I’ve played a lot of Isaac myself and I’m familiar with those systems – I guess it just feels like such a huge letdown when you do “everything right” and still get nothing. I’m talking chained disappointments like:

          – Don’t get any keys to get into the second floor item room
          – Lousy drops from early bosses
          – First devil deal shows up with trash items (or even no items!)
          – Second and third devil deals refuse to spawn through the Caves
          – Fourth (second guaranteed) deal spawns, you get mediocre items
          – Take a chance on pills, get random stat downs
          – Next bosses dropping marginal items at best
          – and so on

          Almost every run is winnable, but at a certain point if the RNG is against you, it’s probably better for your own enjoyment to just scrap the run and walk away. As to Curse of the Lost – yeah, it’s not going to kill you, but it still feels like Edmund McMillan just having a laugh at your expense. It doesn’t make the game fun, or challenging, or mix up gameplay – it just feels like “ha ha fuck you”.

          I never tried Noita but based on your description, I’ll take a hard pass.

        2. GoStu says:

          I re-read your comment and curiosity got me to dig into Noita’s “post-game” or “true end-game” a bit. I feel no shame about spoiling it for myself, I was never going to play it anyway.

          Academically it seems interesting. Many other roguelikes do let you achieve flatly broken, unkillable levels of power (In Isaac terms, something like Wafer + Blank Card + Sun Card + 3 or more heart containers + Habit, and that’s a fairly “trivial” level of immortality) but when you pull it off in those games, it feels almost pointless. You’ve guaranteed yourself a win, blasted the ball out of the park, just don’t forget to actually walk around all the bases before collecting your point. Maybe you get to circle through the levels again, for as long as you care to – until the increasing difficulty eventually puts you down (if I recall correctly, on loop 4+ in Isaac you become a 1-HP wonder?).

          Noita seems to be operating on the system that anticipates this level of ‘brokenness’ and then has a whole extra game on top. Neat.

          1. Fizban says:

            I might find it more neat if they happened nearly as often: I’ve got bit more than 100 hours in Noita (maybe 50 since I got the basics down, made it to the end, and then looked up what I’ been “doing wrong), and have had maybe 1-2 runs that felt sufficiently overpowered to actually do a bunch of stuff. As in, had a dozen or two really slippery charges of healing on top of combat, drilling, and teleporting wands, and multiple immunities. And then got one-shot by chaotic explosions or off-screen enemies or something I wasn’t immune to anyway. In Issac you can form an infinite win combo with around 4-6 of the right pieces. In Noita, you need like 12 of the right spell bits on the right wands, on top of 4-6 of the right perks to resist all the gotcha damage types. How many perks do you get? Oh, about 4-6.

            BoI gives you a guaranteed item, a possible devil/angel room, a possible shop, and other possible bonus items and pickup combos, every level. Noita gives you one perk per level, and even if you happen to get the needed survival perks, you also have to scrape together both a hefty combat wand and a more specific set of things for a drilling wand (and some later enemies are actually resistant/immune to certain damage types so actually you need 2 combat wands!), and the low health/increasing damage makes it like playing BoI with a maximum of 2 hearts and practically zero heals.

            It’s just way, way, way too harsh for what it wants you to do. Success is improved by caution and deliberate clearing for items, but the longer you spend on that, the more likely you’re just going to get a series of crap perks that leaves you instantly one-shot by all sorts of things and the extra time you spent is completely wasted. BoI never one-shots you, and has zero status effects. Noita has multiple flavors of instant death: lava, acid, random chaotic explosions, as well as at least fire for offscreen enemy snipes. And also slower/situational but still crippling or lethal toxic sludge, electrical stuns, freezing vapor, and being set on fire, all of which will be presented along the main path. Notice that the number of things that will gank you is longer than the list of perks you get in 1-2 hours: you literally cannot become unstoppable, even with perfect luck, without breaking through to the alternate dimensions for more perks- which requires yet another set of very specific tools you must assemble, and will kill you if you make a wrong step.

            So unfortunately I cannot agree that Noita is neat for accounting for ultimate uber builds, simply because in my 100 hours I’ve yet to see one and it doesn’t seem mathematically probable. Maybe I just suck, but I’m quite confident that if I played for another 200 hours (my combined BoI times, in which I’ve unlocked all but the hardest stuff with the hardest characters), I would not see such a build without savescumming, and possibly manipulating the rng. Dead Cells makes me mad because I’m apparently just not good enough to beat BC 2. Noita makes me mad because I know no matter how good I get, it won’t matter unless I grind for 2 hours, roll a yahtzee in one, and then make a copy of the save to scum with.

  5. Philadelphus says:

    Glad to see my initial guess to the solution to the “magical sorting machine” was correct, though I was half-guessing myself that maybe Blender had some method of auto-coloring things based on where they ended up so you wouldn’t have to color everything by hand (I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that functionality exists, perhaps as a plugin).

    I’d definitely read an article on the Blender render farm experience!

  6. Chad+Miller says:

    My own “black hole” games are Civilization IV and Fallout: New Vegas. The first of those is so bad that I started doing more of my gaming on consoles just because for a long time opening Steam degenerated to a competition between Civ IV and not-Civ IV

    I actually tried to start a second playthrough of The Outer Worlds and ended up on Yet Another New Vegas Playthrough instead.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Project Zomboid is now the black hole eating my free time. Even Rimworld’s ideology update / DLC isn’t really holding my interest, since there’s not really many options to play non-theistic colonies for me, except for…just switching the game off. Most of the non-belief ideologies just push gameplays I have no interest in, or which were already the dominant strategy. (e.g. Further incentivizing cybernetics and mountain bases.) But killing zombies and looting houses? That’s kept me going all weekend! (Although dying all the time is getting pretty annoying. I can barely make it to day three, let alone start building a proper base from scavenged supplies.)

  7. John says:

    Crusader Kings makes me want to play Mount & Blade and Mount & Blade makes me want to play Crusader Kings.

    If you’ve ever tried to establish your own kingdom in Mount & Blade: Warband, you undoubtedly know that your vassals are a bunch of ungrateful, spiteful wretches who can only be placated by constant feasts. You also know that feasts are a huge pain in the ass, requiring you to personally ride hither, thither, and yon, all about the countryside buying up food, alcohol, and various luxury goods in vast quantities. Are you not king? Do you not have people to do this for you? Well, maybe if you’re playing a modded version of the game you do. But if you’re playing vanilla Warband then, no, your majesty, you do not. You’re going to have to do that busy-work all by yourself. In Crusader Kings II, by contrast, you throw a feast by pushing a button. Not only that, but there are ways of managing vassals that don’t involve feasts at all. There are bribes, diplomatic marriages, council and court appointments, and more, most of which are also accomplished by, yes, pushing a button.

    So you know how in Crusader Kings II when your 500 guys get in a fight with the enemy’s 2000 guys and you, y’know, lose? That totally wouldn’t happen in Mount & Blade.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      I feel you, I’m still waiting for Crusader Kings 3’s inevitable expansions and conversion mods that will expand the game. Part of the reason why I still stick with CKII is because it has more features, content, and replayabilility from the ludicrous amount of DLC and support that game had post-launch.

      Not buying Bannerlord until it comes out of early access.

      1. John says:

        I’m curious about Crusader Kings III, but not enough to actually go out and buy it at full price when I already have Crusader Kings II. I don’t care too much about the DLC. Vanilla CK II had plenty of content and I’m sure the same is true of CK III. It’s just that most of that content is already in CK II. At some point, however, there’ll be a bundle or CK III will go on sale for $10 or so, and that’s when I’ll strike.

        I keep forgetting that Bannerlord exists for some reason.

    2. Daniil Adamov says:

      Lots of RPGs with politics in the plot make me want to play a Paradox game with the roughly appropriate tech level.

  8. Joshua says:

    I don’t know, Labor Day is getting more ironic each year that the US becomes more of a service sector economy where the lowest level employees all have to work and the more well compensated employees get to have the day off. Our garbage collectors just rolled by a few minutes ago, for example.

    1. Mr. Wolf says:

      I hate public holidays, because it means I have to work but public transport doesn’t.

  9. Joshua says:

    Tangent, but the watch discussion reminds me of the weird plot hole from Aliens where Hicks gives Ripley the tracker watch thingy, who in turn gives it to Newt without his knowledge, yet he still knows to track her with it later. Considering the next time he sees them both is when they’re attacked by the facehuggers, which quickly spirals into the discussion of killing Burke, having the aliens attack their compound, and then fleeing through the tunnels, there is literally no point where it would be appropriate to discuss the topic.

    1. Geebs says:

      He saw her hand it over on the security camera Ripley points out in the same scene. There, fixed!

  10. John says:

    As it happens, I’ve been playing a lot of Alpha Centauri lately. As I see it, the big difference between Alpha Centauri and more recent Civilization games–apart from the interface or the theme–is that Alpha Centauri requires you to go wide, whereas, say, Civilization V is perfectly content to let you go tall. While I’ve never even tried to complete the Civilization V one-city challenge, I have beaten the game on default (i.e., middling) difficulty with as few as three cities. That’d be suicidal in Alpha Centauri. If you don’t blob up in Alpha Centauri, the other factions will. They’ll be ahead both industrially and technologically and they will swamp you. So, while’s there’s an awful lot to like in Alpha Centauri, when I find myself having to manage a few dozen cities I often wish I were playing Civilization V.

    Another difference, this one purely technical, is loading times. Loading times in Civilization V are awful. Civilization V doesn’t have an official Ironman mode, but I always end up playing as if it did because it takes so very, very long to revert to an earlier save. In Alpha Centauri, by contrast, loading times are near-instant and, importantly, always were. This is not an artifact of playing an old game on modern hardware. I am a filthy Alpha Centauri save-scummer and have been since 1999.

    1. Joshua says:

      As much as Civ V is my favorite, I can get the frustration of how it designed it’s Tall vs. Wide to see why they changed things up for VI as Shamus discussed.

      Playing just three cities in your example is not only possible, it’s often the ideal (3-4 anyway). Every extra city costs your empire happiness and makes your science and culture more expensive (to offset how you’ll be generating more science and culture from the new city), which works as a form of Level Scaling. The goal was to avoid ICS (Infinite City Sprawl), but does make starting a new city on some remote island chain somewhere even less enticing, and it will basically make sure that the game is still all about your first few cities.

      So, I can definitely relate to “I wish I was playing something else” when dealing with this particular aspect. Getting frustration with how the current game worked was what made me switch from IV to V, but so far I have avoided swapping to VI.

      1. John says:

        Oh, yes. I seldom go beyond four directly-controlled cities in Civilization V, though I will occasionally go as high as six. If I’m going for a tech victory and if I can find a good site with access to new luxury resources, I’ll go ahead and found a new city because the luxury resource mitigates the happiness penalty. I never go beyond four when I’m going for a culture victory. I think the intended way to go wide in Civilization V is through puppet governments in captured cities, which have smaller happiness penalties than directly-controlled cities. Still, I find that Civilization V incentivizes war crimes–i.e., burning cities to the ground–like no other Civilization or Civilization-like that I’ve ever played. Does this city I’ve just captured have access to resources that I need? Does it have any wonders? Will keeping it prevent another faction from founding an inconvenient city in the region? If the answer to all of those questions is no, then the city burns. The bizarre thing is that there doesn’t seem to be any kind of diplomatic penalty for doing this kind of thing–though I should add that I’m still playing vanilla Civlization V and the expansions may have changed that. You can wipe out cities in Alpha Centauri too, but there usually isn’t any particular benefit to doing so and, unless you’ve managed to persuade the planetary council that warcrimes are just fine, really, the other factions will make you pay for it.

        1. Joshua says:

          I don’t think there’s any penalty beyond that of initially taking the city.

          One of the weird things about Civ V’s Culture victory is that it can incentivize war crimes as well. If you don’t get lucky with certain wonders and stay on top of your culture all the way through, it’s very easy to get an opponent that will have such high rival culture that even with tons of wonders, hotels, airports, Internet, etc. on your side it could still be well into the 2000s or later before you’d ever come close to becoming Influential with them.

          Or, you can go for some selective Domination and achieve a Cultury Victory by becoming Influential on every remaining civilization you haven’t genocided to zero cities. Always funny to get the immediate culture victory pop-up screen from taking a city in battle.

    2. Bubble181 says:

      The Tall thing is pretty much why I prefer V over IV and VI, though.
      I don’t want to have to commit to ICS, and I don’t like the PCs to engage in it, either. Yes, expanding border, all very well, but don’t make me build 25 cities and try to do something intelligent with them, it becomes a slog to micromanage them all and the AI city management frankly sucks.
      I’d actually be in favor of a type of Civ where expanding borders through culture eventually causes “towns” or something to pop up or be required (as a district/enhancement/whatever) to continue expanding.Countries/empires don’t expand by having huge cities with empty fields in between them – they have a few nucleus cities and lots of smaller towns in between, along trade routes, etc.
      I think…Medieval II: Total War did it that way? Or perhaps Empire: Total War? You had one big city, then several smaller towns per area. A town having limited defensive options, and only specializing in one or two things mostly to support the main city.
      In Civ, you’re more or less supposed to use smaller cities to support the bigger cities, etc, but it just never really clicked for me that way.

  11. Echo Tango says:

    Who would wear a watch when we all have smartphones?

    My brother actually wears watches, just so he doesn’t have to mess with his phone to check the time. I myself keep one in my jacket / vest pocket, because I dropped my phone while checking the time on a coffee walk. It fell face-down, exactly on top of a small pebble, so that none of the corners on my case protected the device. I’m still trying to find, or fabricate a case that has corners that protrude at least 1.5 mm at the corners. It seems like all of the ones commonly sold either don’t care about that amount of protection, or lie about it. The one I got off of Amazon said 1.5, but it was actually only about 0.5. :|

    1. Daimbert says:

      I’ve recently stopped wearing watches because I haven’t needed one — inside the house I have lots of clocks to look at and when I drive somewhere I have the clock in the car to look at — but when I go out someplace where I’ll be away from the vehicle for a while I really do still want to wear a watch, because checking on a phone is a lot harder than simply looking down at my wrist.

    2. John says:

      My brother actually wears watches, just so he doesn’t have to mess with his phone to check the time.

      Your brother is a man after my own heart.

      It’s easier to glance at your wrist than it is to fish a phone out of your pocket. I seldom need to check to the time quickly, but when I do I’m very glad I can. When you are trying to sign in at the security desk at your daughter’s school, you need to note the time in the log, the security guard is staring at you, and there are who knows how many parents in line behind you, it a blessing to have a wrist-mounted time-telling device. It’s also nice to have a watch when you’re working out. It’s much easier to use the stopwatch on your wrist than it is one that’s strapped in a secure pocket so that it doesn’t bounce around uncomfortably while you’re running. It also makes for much more precise lap times.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        If I didn’t work at a computer all day, I’d always wear a wristwatch just like when I was a kid. In theory it could sit on my desk until I get up to go somewhere, but I was always forgetting it when I tried that last. Now, if I had an implanted LCD in my wrist… :)

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      Your phone case design sounds like a problem for 3D printing! You can get as much arbitrary protection as you want. Downside is the phone case will be several times more expensive than one off-the-shelf.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        I think that depends on how many prints I try out, in case they don’t fit right, and whether I print it myself or not. I bought a Monoprice $250 model a few years ago, and a kilogram of plastic was about $20 if I remember correctly…I’ve basically never used this, because I always get busy with other stuff. I think the first thing (after the virtual-only design, which just costs my time) would be a suitable plastic to use in the print. Would need to be something relatively bendy, like normal mass-produced cases. :)

        1. Syal says:

          I assume the phone has to look pretty. Otherwise you could just tape some pencil erasers to the front.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            That’s actually close to what I plan to try out – ugly corner-pieces that I can slide in between the phone and my current case, but which stick out a ways to protect the corners. I just need to find something thin and strong enough to fit between those, and still provide some protection. :)

    4. Bubble181 says:

      I sometimes wear a watch in situations where a phone or its camera isn’t allowed or isn’t advisable – public saunas, theaters, etc. I still want to be able to see the time, and I don’t need a full pocket computer to do so.

  12. Daimbert says:

    For me, just recently:

    Trials of Cold Steel made me want to play the Personas, and the old console game Cross Edge made me want to play Record of Agarest War.

  13. Regarding compressed installers inside a zip file (or other archive) might be due to a few reasons. Automated scripts and nobody botherd to optimize it/make it smarter.
    The other reason might be error checking. A installer may do error checking on the install data, but may not do so on the executable part.

    But i think you could fix this by doing a normal download, and then drag’n’drop the downloaded file on the “download” page to verify the checksum.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Don’t all HTTP transmissions verify the integrity of every packet? I think the only checksumming you need, is on the server’s side, to make sure the file doesn’t rot from cosmic rays over time.

    2. Rene Jimenez says:

      Also, Chrome automatically forbids the automatic download of some .exe files. I don’t know if it checks from some sort of a whitelist, but I’ve often seen a “We think it might be a malicious, unwanted, or uncommon file” warning when trying to download executables

  14. evilmrhenry says:

    “Can’t I take all these bunny rabbits from this island and export them over here?” Australia says you can, but you shouldn’t.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      And then you can’t get all of them when you want to take them back.

  15. Ninety-Three says:

    Without a marketing team, you end up with consumer product names that look like part numbers.

    Sometimes you end up with no name at all. At an old workplace we had a major tool that was part of our software test/deploy process which spent two years being called simply “the automation” before one of the managers got sick of it and dubbed the thing CAT: [Companyname] Automation Tool.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I’d prefer names that actually mean something, even if it’s a little boring, like “Corpomax Big Shovel 2021 model”, to either sexy or ‘cool’ names, or serial-number names. There’s so many things I have to use, where I can’t remember what the damn things are named. “Oh, this company’s naming things after greek mythology, and this other company is naming them after animals, and our in-house stuff is comic-books except when it’s anglicized french…”

  16. Mr. Wolf says:

    I was actually surprised recently when I had to explain, more than once, that my watch wasn’t a “fancy watch”. I always thought it was obviously cheap, being a fairly plain and made of stainless steel, but there seems to be an assumption amongst younger people that nobody wears analogue watches simply to tell the time.

    1. The+Puzzler says:

      Why tell them the truth, if they’re too ignorant to tell the difference?

      “This old thing? It’s an Omega Abattoir, authenticated at Sotheby’s. Limited edition. Chrome-palladium alloy. They’re reputed to be the second most accurate timepiece of the 20th century. My grandfather brought it back from a POW camp.”

      Instant respect.

  17. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I’m trying to remember if there are games that make me want to play a particular other game because I have this nagging feeling I’m forgetting something… My actual problem is slightly different and twofold.

    Firstly, as a person with very eclectic taste in gaming I tend to experience certain low key frustration because no single game can scratch all the itches. Which is why most longer games tend to feel a bit “samey” to me after a while (typically exacebrated horribly during the “endgame slog”) and I tend to alternate between different genres.

    Secondly, I’m not much into replaying games most of the time. So sometimes I’ll be like “I wish was playing X but more of it”. Like, I want to play another Shadowrun game but not particularly replay the ones I have.

    As a result I’ll be playing something actiony and I’ll have this feeling “I wish I was playing something turn based… Pathfiner was cool, I wish there was a sequel” (and now there is) or the other way around, I’ll be doing some turn based tactical JRPG and I’ll be “yeah, these anime moves are cool but I wish they ported the second Bayonetta to PC”.

  18. Steve C says:

    My first thought with the non-random pachinko machine sort was to run it in reverse. Start with everything sorted by color then run it in a way that undoes everything to random. No idea if it is practical or has any chance of working. Still, it was where my brain immediately went.

  19. As an idea for the rendering. I use Sheepit (https://www.sheepit-renderfarm.com/index.php) to spread the cost of rendering Blender projects.

    It’s a crowd-sourced kind of rendering farm. You render some frames for other people to earn points, then spend those points to get the crowd to render your project. It works nicely to leave a few threads rendering away while I’m working on something that can spare a few cores, then before I know it I’ve built up a nice stash of points to quickly turn around my own more ambitious projects. Maybe that could work for you?

  20. Rick says:

    Regarding software updates, I remember being in awe when I first heard about Chrome’s work ages ago to get their patch sizes down.

    Project Courgette

  21. Gautsu says:

    Shamus, what do you guys use to put together the podcast, program-wise? Compiling after you record the audio? My co-podcaster and I are looking for alternatives to what we currently use

    1. Shamus says:

      We use Audacity to combine our two audio files. That’s basically it.

      1. Gautsu says:

        Thanks man!

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