Diecast #355: Procgen Render Farm

By Shamus Posted Monday Sep 13, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 71 comments

As a reminder: I’m going in for surgery this week. I don’t expect any problems, but I might not be around as much as usual. Please try to not burn the place down while I’m gone.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

00:00 Blender Render Farmer
Maybe this sort of service is still a bit exotic, so prices are high because there aren’t enough customers to really create the all-important economy of scale?

Rebus Farm even suggests their service would be good for “students”. I don’t know what kind of students have a spare $300 to burn on rendering out single assignments. And if a student has that much dosh to burn, then they probably have access to a good computer and they won’t need an overpriced render farm to get the job done. Like I said on the show, the economics of this make no sense to me.

11:07 Introversion City Generator

Quite interesting.

25:49 Mailbag: Arby’s Dice

Dear Diecast,

You remember that Wendy’s RPG? Well, now apparently Arby’s is selling tabletop gaming dice:

I just thought it was cute. Have fast food places realized who their core demo is or something?

Jennifer Snow

I looked on YouTube, and I couldn’t find any of the originating advertisements. All I could find were people’s reactions. Strange.

28:09 Kidd Video Tangent

During this segment the audio cuts out. What I said was that Master Blaster looks like a combination between Spider-Man’s Kingpin, and Dilbert’s Pointy-Haired Boss. I’m not crazy, right? The Master Blaster really does look like the PHB, doesn’t he?

WARNING: The following video is the most intensely 80s thing you’ll see all week.

Link (YouTube)

I was 13 when the show came out. Even so, I could tell the show was sort of lame and cringy. But I also watched it every week without fail, so…

36:21 Mailbag: Endgame Reset

Dear Diecast,

I’ve recently been playing the Master Blaster (Zero) series, a metroid-esque game that interleaves the platforming shooting with 2D top-down shooting segments. An interesting feature of these games (02 and 03 in particular) is the “endgame reset”: just before the final level, all your collected weapons and other stuff are removed, and you get a very different set of abilities and weapons to master for the final portion of the game. (in these games, the final level only unlocks when you have collected enough stuff, so it can be seen as a bonus level as well) I think the endgame reset can in theory be applied to any game with (optional) character progression. Are there any games where you think the endgame reset has been applied extremely well or poorly? What games could be improved with an endgame reset?

A few thoughts from me (no novel this time). From a design perspective, the endgame reset is a powerful but tricky tool. Handled well, it can ensure the player is presented with a proper challenge in the final part of the game, the player can enjoy mastering new mechanics, and there is the opportunity to make use of more situational types of weapons. (since there is only one level, it can be tailored to give these weapons a chance to shine) Handled poorly, the player will feel cheated out of their gear, discouraged that their overlevelling doesn’t save them from the boss, and be frustrated by having to learn another set of gimmicky mechanics.

Still, I think I’d much prefer even a failed attempt at an end game reset than an “endgame funnel”, such as at the end of Deus Ex HR, where tension and challenge is added at the cost of removing all but one of the otherwise viable playstyles.

With kind regards,


39:32 Mailbag: Mass Effect TV Show

Deer Diecast

Found this interesting video by Lessons from the Screenplay about adapting the Mass Effect trilogy into a TV show.

So what are your thoughts?


From The Archives:

71 thoughts on “Diecast #355: Procgen Render Farm

  1. Chad+Miller says:

    re: rebus – I also pronounced it the way you did, so I checked multiple dictionaries and they all agree the long “e” is correct.

    1. Lino says:

      Maybe the people behind it are from Eastern Europe? Because that’s how most Slavic languages would pronounce the word.

    2. Philadelphus says:

      It’s from a Latin phrase Non verbis, sed rebus, “Not with words, but with things”, rebus being ablative plural ofres, “thing”. Now we can all argue about the Latin pronunciation.

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        Funnily enough, I have a different set of default pronunciations between “word that is probably foreign, even if I don’t know the language, even if the language is fictional” vs. “word that I recognize as English”. The Great Vowel Shift is a hell of a thing.

        1. parkenf says:

          When I was learning Latin at school, 30 years ago, I was told that the convention is to pronounce Latin as if it were English, since it’s a dead language so who knows? Of course the question then is which English, to which the answer is presumably, the English of whoever is speaking it. I guess if Latin scholars the world over agree with the speak-it-as-if-modern-local dictum then there are as many pronunciations of rebus as there are dialects. In UK English I would pronounce that as ree-bus, ree like bee, and bus like, well, bus.

          I always prefer to pronounce Latin as if it’s Italian, though I don’t speak Italian. Italian, from memory, has the most basic set of pronunciation rules, so rebus would be reh-booz, with the oo being a short oo like in wood. And the eh being a short eh like in set.

          1. parkenf says:

            Aaargh! Of course Italian will have dialects too! I don’t speak Italian! Clearly I barely comprehend English too, as in the UK there are >10 pronunciations of bus.

            1. Duoae says:

              Tha’s right, man! Git off the boos!

              1. BlueHorus says:

                I can sit where I like on this bahs!

                1. parkenf says:

                  I’m being oversensitive. Clearly in English re like bee and bus like bus. How you pronounce bee and bus is up to you. I do maintain my apology to any Italians reading though.

                  1. Duoae says:

                    What I’ve found, living in another country around non-english native speakers is just how insensitive (by that i mean, it does not really matter how you pronounce them) English is as a language to vowel sounds.

                    I’ve seen it written many times that, empire/colonialism aside, English became a dominant language in business due to its flexibility and from my experience i have to agree. You can construct sentences in many nonsense ways, tenses and pronunciations and still be understandable 85-90% of the time.

                    Other languages are too sensitive to small changes grammatically and/or phonetically, rendering the spoken sentences incomprehensible.

                    It was literally two weeks ago that the people in my office had a non-sequitur conversation, along me why we (the English) pronounced the name of the country wrong. At which point i was reminded that my ear is not sensitive to minor changes in vowel sounds when i basically couldn’t hear or reproduce the very slight difference between how I and natives/other nationalities are able to do.

                    Honestly, it was actually the first time anybody brought it up. Which i found funny…. anyway, i digress.

                    On another note, i don’t think we really have dialects in the Uk. We have accents and a few smatterings of local word substitutes. Dialects in other countries are practically different languages unless the speaker is familiar with them (e.g. italy, Spain, etc)

                    1. Chris says:

                      English is plenty sensitive to vowel sounds. Differences like than/then or farther/further . Furthermore the pronunciation of words is just a shot in the dark, for example, ghoti being pronounceable as fish. I’ve had plenty of times where i took a guess on how to pronounce a word i had read, and then people were confused what i actually meant.
                      Word order is also important in english, since, unlike some other languages, there are no other indicators of the function of a word in the sentence. “Man eats pork” and “pork eats man” are very different even though you flipped just two words. Moving “not” outside of the verbs instead of in the middle also creates very weird and sometimes hard to understand sentences. (“Not I have turned on the heater” “I have not turned on the heater”). Languages like German and Japanese also have a preferred word order, but you have more than one method of discerning what the object and subject in a sentence is.

                      English has plenty of dialects and accents. Compare the posh English to the accent of a blue collar worker. If someone talks with a strong cockney accent you can easily miss some words. If you compare someone in cornwall to someone in northumberland you would also hear a huge difference, and the older locals can easily have such a thick accent they are hard to understand. And that is just within england, the southern drawl, minnesota nice, or irish english all sound completely different and can be hard to understand.

                      And that is not so different from italy or spain, you have castillian spanish and general italian, but you also have local accents, and local languages (like basque and vallencian in spain, umbrain, lombard and piedmontese in italy) that range from vaguely understandable to its own thing. Meanwhile mexican spanish, peruvian spanish and other ex-colony spanish styles are also very different from the castillian spanish of spain itself.

                      English became the dominant language due a wide variety of processes. GB was the hegemon of the world after napoleon. French was the language of the elite and the lingua franca, but english very quickly established itself as a trade language. After decades of english dominance the USA took over as the cultural and economic center, which further made english take root. Especially since the rise of the USA coincided with the rise of mass media, which included auditorial content like radio and movies.

                    2. Duoae says:


                      We’re going to have to disagree on a lot of your points. See kincajou’s comment below about dialects, for instance.

                      Also, just because you gave one example where word order is important, does not mean that my point was not correct.

                      Saying, “i eat pig” when asked about what you had for dinner yesterday is still totally comprehensible. In other languages not so much (at least from my experience).

                      I’ve found that mixing tenses and missing out words really does not matter too much and that many different levels of speaking ability arev able to communicate well, despite imprecise language or imperfections in their grammar.

                      As for ghoti as fish, I’d love to hear your explanation of that without just taking random phonemes from other structurally unrelated words. (Since English is not a phonetic language, i would say that pretending ghoti could be pronounced that way or actually parsed that way by someone taught it is incredibly far-fetched and unrealistic….)

                      For vowels themselves, i disagree as well. Your example is confusing the matter. Different soundings of the same vowel – the clear example we were discussing relating to “bus” – do not matter. I’m not comparing boss and bus….

                      If you pronounce bus with a deep ‘u’ or a long ‘oo’ it does not matter, yes someone hearing for the first time might be confused but then they learn the pronunciation. Contrast this with many other languages and a soft change in vowel sound will result in either a different word being understood entirely or nonsense from issuing from your mouth, followed by a quick correction from the real native speaker.

                    3. parkenf says:

                      See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghoti. It’s a famed example, usually attributed to George Bernard Shaw, of an appeal for standardized English spelling.

                      gh – as in laugh (f)
                      o – as in women (i)
                      ti – as in station (sh)

                      hence fish. Yes it is taking English’s irregular spelling to the point of absurdity, and is misunderstanding the concept of phonemes, but that could also describe much of English parsing anyway.

            2. kincajou says:

              As an italian here’s my take:

              Dialects may not be the word you’re looking for.

              I find that people in england (i would say anglosaxon sphere, but my personal experience is england) conflate a dialect with an accent.

              Dialects are actually different languages, it’s not just a change in phonemes for words but actual different words, writing and pronunciation. As an italian from the Ligurian region who only knows “italian” (which, if i recall correctly, is actually originally the Milanese variant) i can follow the ligurian dialece and parts of the venetian (in the same way a spanish or french speaker can follow italian without ever having spokent it, or i can catch words of romanian).
              However, i cannot follow Neapolitan, i can read fragments of it because it has the same root but beyond that…”it’s all chinese to me!” (see what i did there? :p)

              On top of dialects then italian also has regional accents, which is what we see in england between english-speaking scots, welsh, midlanders, west country-ers, etc. In dialects the language remains the same and the pronunciation, phonemes, change from region to region (like some regions don’t pronunce doubles, or don’t tend to read the ends of sentences).

              As to approaching original latin? I’m not a linguist per se but so much history has passed that all the dialects and accents will have vaired due to cultural and historical events (the french kingdoms in the north west, the ausro-hungarians in the east, the maurs in the south…). So your guess is as good as anyone’s , but personally i read latin with milanese-italian pronunciation.

          2. John says:

            When I took Latin in high school, the pronunciation we were taught was sort of German-ish because, my teacher explained, her Latin classes in college were taught by a German man. In any case, we did a whole lot more written work than we ever did spoken. I spent a good chunk of my fourth year in Latin translating Virgil, but a simple conversation in Latin would probably have been beyond me.

          3. Sabrdance says:

            I had the fortune/misfortune to have as my teachers a nun and a classicist -so I got Church pronunciation one semester (to the extent Latin is not a dead language, it’s the language of the Catholic Church, and is heavily Italian inflected), Classical Best Guess the next (apparently largely based on Greek transliterations. Oh, the debates over how to pronounce Caesar…)

  2. Chris says:

    arby doesnt release D&D dice because they think that is their core audience and they can make some money off of it, but because they want to advertise and traditional advertising is difficult. All you can do is say “we already dropped a billion on TV ads, do we drop the rest of our marketing budget on google/youtube or facebook?” And then people scroll past advertisements, so you have to do stuff like advertorials.
    Fastfood companies run twitter accounts. These were sterile “hey check out the new superMcburger3000 its only 5.99”. Until Wendy’s started burning people and making funny comments. This garnered a lot of attention since it seemed unprofessional. So one twitter posting memes and other stuff ended up being better advertisement than billions in TV ads. So now they try to advertise to you by pretending to be “cool” and “down with the scene”, like Wendy’s RPG, KFC’s console, or Arby’s D&D dice. Sure, they’ll probably run a deficit, but if 100 million on dice gives you more attention than 100 million in TV ads it’s a win. And seeing how it ended up on a gaming blog they probably mark this as a win.

  3. Zaxares says:

    I hope the surgery goes well, Shamus. :)

    (… Is he gone? Alright, boys! Break out the booze, drugs and hookers!)

    1. Duoae says:

      Hey, I heard that topic X is pure idiocy and that those who like it are surely aligned to political party Z!

      Plus, I hear that Blender now causes disease T but the big companies don’t want us to know as they’re trying to implant bees in our bonnets in order to help pollinate the world with boring opinions. I read it on reliable bloard C.

      *waves to Shamus*

      Hope it goes well, we’ll take care of the place for you!

      1. RFS-81 says:

        Disease T is a hoax, Umbrella did nothing wrong!

        Good luck, Shamus!

        1. Duoae says:

          Agreed! It was a rogue cell… sad!

      2. kincajou says:

        as someone from political party B i’m offended for the members of party Z that you would even think that! Clearly you are in the pocket of big-videogame and aren’t considering this tangential strawman argument M

        1. pseudonym says:

          If you think that, you are clearly aligned with infamous war-crime committing politician Y from year X!

          1. Syal says:

            …six comments in and we’ve already triggered G’s Idea. Well-remembered historical figure N would be ashamed.

  4. MerryWeathers says:

    Ironic that you cite Star Trek: The Next Generation as “Mass Effect done on TV 30 years ago” when I hear people saying Star Trek: Picard ripped off Mass Effect 1.

    On a Mass Effect TV show based on the trilogy, I feel like it would end up being an adaptation of a Paragon playthrough with some of Renegade Shepard’s snark and one-liners thrown in.

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      On a Mass Effect TV show based on the trilogy, I feel like it would end up being an adaptation of a Paragon playthrough with some of Renegade Shepard’s snark and one-liners thrown in.

      A long time daydream of mine is a Mass Effect TV show that features two different characters, which add up to a Decomposite Character version of Shepard. The “real” Shepard would be Paragon Male-shep which is pretty much what the games already treat as canon, but then there’s an OC whose role is largely to present the Renegade viewpoint (including even being given the limelight in specific subplots if that would be more interesting). If the presence of such an OC is too uncomfortable for focus groups or gatekeepers, name her “Miranda” and any necessary rewrites are probably for the better anyway.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Hmmm, lets’ see…
      …loads of promise, gets dumber as the story goes on on, has an underwhelming ending that people hated…
      …you’re right! Mass Effect is PERFECT for the new Game Of Thrones!

      …hang on, wasn’t there going to be a movie at some point?

      1. bobbert says:

        ‘Game of Thrones’ was the ‘dragons and tiddies’ show, right? I guess I could see Mass Effect filling its shoes.

  5. Joshua says:

    Can’t believe Shamus didn’t think of Half-Life 2 for the Endgame Reset question. All of the skills and weapons you’ve learned thus far are tossed out the window when you get the gravity gun power up.

    Maybe Planescape:Torment should get an honorable mention because the endgame expects you to start doing difficult RPG fights, something you’ve been able to mostly skip in the game up until this point.

    As far as games having to use multiple B-Team characters for the Endgame, I’d mention Final Fantasy VI. You normally have a group of four characters, but the last level makes you bring TWELVE out of your fourteen characters to do, and the fights are of sufficient challenge that while your main characters will probably have an easy time, everyone else will get the stuffing kicked out of them so stop everything when you get there and prepare to grind for awhile.

    1. Shamus says:

      I’m not sure what you mean? HL2 was the only game I DID think of, and I mentioned it specifically.

      1. Joshua says:

        Sorry, must have missed it then. I was in a hurry and skimmed that section before making my comment before heading to work and didn’t hear you say it at all.

        1. Echo Tango says:


  6. Chad+Miller says:

    Re: Final Fantasy and a mechanics overhaul; XV does something like this near the end. There’s one stretch in the Imperial City where you lose all your party but the main character, who has to rely on a new magic ring instead of the abilities he’s been using all game. This segment was sufficiently botched that later patches both buffed the ring and gave the player the option to skip it.

    Then for the final battle, you also only get the main character. It’s not a “Cloud at the end of FFVII” thing, it’s the actual legitimate final boss fight and it’s a duel. It makes more sense with the game’s action-y mechanics (as opposed to earlier games’ entering-commands style battle system)

    1. Syal says:

      Haven’t played any reset games, unless you count Dragon Quest 4 switching characters every chapter, or the KOTOR 2 section with the tiny robot. I’ll say the only way I see it working is for an epilogue fight; the, post-challenge narrative loose end stuff. If it’s supposed to be a challenge it’s not going to work. The thing about adding tools is you can raise the difficulty to demand their use; if you take the tools away again, you have to reduce the difficulty to match*, so it’s better to just move that challenge to the beginning.

      *(and if you don’t lower the difficulty you get a real bullshit section. KOTOR 2’s robot section is nearly impossible if you didn’t empty the place with your normal character first. FF7’s post-Rufus walk to the stairs is the most dangerous part of the game, because a solo Cloud is taking on battles built for a three-man team.)

      1. Syal says:

        …actually, that’s Wutai’s entire gimmick isn’t it. Although Rapps is a monster of a fight if you don’t cheese it.

        …and I guess FF8 ends with one of those. Although I don’t think that one works; you unlock your best abilities first, or you die.

        So, optional gimmick dungeons, or post-challenge endgame dungeons.

  7. Mattias42 says:

    Re: End-Game Reset

    Zone of the Enders 2, 2nd Runner did this pretty dang excellently, in my opinion.

    Spoilers: Near the end of the game you get the super drive thing-y that you’ve been trying to activate the majority of the game, but~ your ranged weapon & armor systems get fried in the process. So you’re suddenly this teleporting mech-ninja that kills all but the last boss in one, two hits, but you’re so fragile you’re forced to master that movement system and you can’t access any of the cool ranged weapons you’ve had all game.

    Personally found it really well done. A neat walking of a tightrope that made you both feel more powerful AND vulnerable then ever-before. Thus giving you that carrot of feeling you’ve reached your goal of the super-weapon McGuffin, AND still raising the stakes for that last leg of the game.

    Honestly? Think a lot of other games could learn a lot from that game. I know Metal Gear & Death Stranding get most of the press as Hideo Kojima’s best games, but there’s a lot of great ideas, sci-fi concepts & moments in ZoE.

  8. Lino says:

    I am so with you when it comes to skits in the middle of reviews. I’ve despised them ever since I first saw them back in high school when I was watching the likes of Doug Walker and Spoony. The last time I managed to somewhat enjoy skits in the middle of review-type content was during my brief stint of watching Jim Sterling.

    It’s kind of funny, actually. Back when he had his videos on Destructoid and the Escapist, I hated the skits, and I’d skip past them just so I could see the content. When I started watching his videos years later, I actually started liking them, and would watch the whole videos. Later on, once I saw that all his essays gravitated around the same two or three topics without adding anything new to what previous videos had already repeated several times, I would mainly watch the skits, and fast forward through the video essay portion. Until, gradually I came full circle again, and just stopped watching him altogether :D

    But yeah, skits in the middle of reviews. Never liked them. I think the exception with Sterling was that – unlike movie reviewers – his skits weren’t juxtaposed with a professionally shot and edited movie that he was mocking using amateurishly shot skits. What I liked with him was that the amateurish nature of the skits made for a funny contrast with the over-the-top image of grandeur of the character he was portraying. I guess with time it just started grating on me a bit too much….

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Sterling’s skits aren’t really skits, though. They’re just asides, or setup or follow-through on the main essays, that happen to have them in front of the camera instead of voice-over. I don’t really like the over-the-top anger that much, since it doesn’t vary based on the different controvercies discussed each time. Still overall really good, though! :)

  9. Brisbe says:

    My favorite end-game reset is actually in the campaign mode of the card game ‘Spectromancer’. You have 4 elements (Fire, Water, Earth, and Air), and a 5th specialization (like Life, Death, Control, etc.) that you pick by your class, and get 4 cards for each spellbook.

    For a few of the final scenarios, you manage to effectively ‘ascend’, replacing your Elemental spellbooks with 4 other specializations — throwing out all your previous strategies, and forcing you to contend with powerful, but very uneven abilities instead. They give it to you just long enough to be interesting and fun (about 10% of the length of the campaign) without either overpowering the feeling of playing the normal game, or overstaying its welcome.

  10. Lino says:

    Good luck with your surgery, Shamus! Hope everything turns out OK!

    1. pseudonym says:

      All the best Shamus! I hope the surgery helps you feel better.

  11. Philadelphus says:

    The game Filament’s got a bit of an end-game reset. Sort of. It’s a puzzle game that involves wrapping wire around posts with a tiny robot (as part of a futuristic space hacking mini-game…look just go with it), and there are (I think) seven main variations on this idea as you go through the space ship the game’s set on (in one, you need to get the wire to go over panels on the ground, another one involves mixing colors, etc.). After a big buildup, you reach the end game, the ship’s cockpit…which is filled with a whole bunch of one-off puzzles using variations you’ve never seen up to that point. You’re still wrapping wire around stuff, but one puzzle’ll have you need to wander around and around until you’ve spooled out exactly the right length of wire, another involves changing colors depending on the angle you exit the wrap around the post at, etc.. Basically you have to take all the skills you’ve learned throughout the game (which have been built up via tutorials over time) and suddenly figure out a whole bunch of new puzzle gimmicks. I don’t say that in a negative way, either, as Filament is not afraid to be hard and not hold your hand, and if you’ve enjoyed it enough to get this far you’ll probably relish the chance to test your mind with these new concepts. I haven’t actually finished it yet, but that’s the game that came to mind with that discussion.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      That actually sounds exactly like how Paul was describing, for the best way to do it. All the core movements the player’s learned to perform are the same, but now applied to different puzzles. :)

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I’m really tempted to buy Filament now.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          I can definitely recommend it as a game—well-made, bug-free, nice art style and music, and an intriguing story you piece together over the course of the game set in an alt-80’s interstellar exploration ship where most of the crew have mysteriously disappeared other than your voice-on-the-radio. The main mechanic of wrapping string/wire around things without being able to cross your path allows for a ton of different and interesting variations. And while the main puzzle sub-types are all introduced with well-thought-out tutorials, the game is absolutely unafraid not to hold your hand and trust your intelligence, like when you first realize that what you thought were merely background elements are actually clues to unlocking secret message and logs using the same mechanics the game has been teaching you.

          I’m typically pretty laissez-faire about spoilers in games, but I have avoided them rigorously for Filament because I would feel so cheated of the dopamine from solving the puzzles.

  12. King Marth says:

    I imagine the render farm is priced under the assumption that people are literally unable to buy the graphics cards that would let them do it themselves, due to ongoing supply constraints. I’ve been sort of interested in building a proper gaming PC for around a year, but my old-fashioned insistence on buying from reputable retailers at manufacturer prices without camping out means that I don’t have any parts.

  13. John says:

    I can’t help imagining a Mass Effect TV show whose episodes reflect the way I play games like Mass Effect. After every mission, I send my avatar all around my hub area, speaking to every party member and NPC I can find in the hope of unlocking new conversations, new missions, and new content. My hopes are often disappointed, and I end up having a lot of the same conversations over and over again. A truly faithful Mass Effect adaptation, therefore, would necessarily have to end each episode with a sequence of conversations between Shepherd and the rest of the cast. Most of these conversations would be repeated verbatim from previous episodes.

    1. Shamus says:

      Let’s not forget those times when you greet someone, see they don’t have any new dialog, and leave.

      SHEPARD: Have a moment, Tali?

      TALI: Of course Shepard, what is it?

      SHEPARD: I should go.

      TALI: Take care, commander.

          1. Fizban says:

            The best part about Shepard; Wrex; walk away, is that it’s so memorable and feels so good because it’s a normal human ‘conversation’. One-word acknowledgement in passing, making yourselves available if the other person chooses to initiate further conversation but otherwise using no excess words, and then going about your business when neither engages further, that’s efficient and effective communication for a place where everyone has stuff they should be doing.

            Shepard; Wrex, walk away is in fact perfectly written, while the given dialogue for whenever you walk up to Tali is a disaster. One feels perfectly natural because it is, and the other is pure videogame because it is.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              I’ll always rate Skyrim for the ability to just hit Tab and leave a conversation. No more navigating back through conversation trees to get the the exit phrase; I can just say ‘Thanks, bye!’ at any point and move on.

              I remember Ionce tried talking to that crazy preacher in Whiterun – I made the mistake of asking him to tell me more about MIGHTY TALOS. The ability to just leave that conversation was very, very welcome.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      After every mission, I send my avatar all around my hub area, speaking to every party member and NPC I can find in the hope of unlocking new conversations, new missions, and new content. My hopes are often disappointed

      Just think…if they DO make a TV show and they want a filler episode, they can make one about Garrus doing callibrations!

  14. tmtvl says:

    The platformer Eryi’s Action turns into a shooter at the end. It’s different, but because it’s Eryi’s Action, where leaving the save area after loading the game is dangerous, it’s not too much of a wildly different new thing.

  15. Echo Tango says:

    Re: renders priced by the hour, not by usage.

    This sounds insane. Both Google and Amazon let you buy computers as big or small as you need, billed by the minute as used. I’m sure there’s extra complexities from the differences between GPUs and CPUs, but wasn’t [email protected] (and later, other projects using the same infrastructure) doing preemptable computation on people’s computers like, a decade ago?

    1. Echo Tango says:

      *pre-emptible computation on people’s GPUs

  16. GoStu says:

    Half-Life 2’s the only game that comes to my mind for a hard endgame reset, but a few other concepts that reminds me of:

    – I recall Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation fame once pitched an idea in a video where you’d play an RPG-type game and level backwards; choosing which ability to sacrifice to move forward instead of gaining new ones as you went forward. I thought it was a curious idea, but would probably cause players to not bother experimenting with new strategies as sooner or later you’d have to give them up.

    —> If memory serves, he came up with this idea in a review of some RPG or other where he’d initially figured out some stuff that worked for him, and every additional level was just adding more abilities he never ended up using.

    – One could argue that for very, very short sections like the last scene of the first two Modern Warfare games, you’re sort of reset. At the end of Modern Warfare 1 you’re pinned under rubble and have a single pistol to finish the last boss, and at the end of the second you just have a knife to throw. Those sections are so very short though that I don’t think they count. (The last ‘level’ is the same as the others, just hard.)

    – At the end of Battletech (2018) the final campaign mission is actually a pair of missions taking place back-to-back. Any pilots that are injured or mechs that are damaged in the earlier part aren’t available in the second, so you need to build out your company to handle maybe working with your B-Team. (The Flashpoint expansion did this for more missions elsewhere.) For any kind of squad-building game like that (XCom comes to mind) that could be a viable late-game gauntlet: you need to build your whole team up to handle multiple simultaneous objectives, and the final final mission could be ‘go with whoever’s left’.

    1. Fizban says:

      (Unrelated, but I posted a little more Noita rant on #354 if you want to read it).

      I feel like I should know plenty of endgame reset games, but none of them have actually come to mind. I do notice a sort of reverse of the phenomenon with basically all games with limited ability unlocks: as you unlock stuff from your limited levels/points/whatever, you eventually wall-off certain features for a particular playthrough. So early on the game included the possibility that you might X, but by the endgame you’ve “reset” that option out of existence by committing to a certain build- where rolling back a save just a little bit might allow you to pick up an entirely new ability that would completely change your endgame play.

      Though, roguelikes can stumble into natural endgame resets with the random uber combo.

      1. GoStu says:

        (Thanks for letting me know!)

        I think I follow your logic – early on, your build could be anything; later, you’ve committed. You don’t really lose any abilities, but you’re closing the door on some potential options.

        I think the endgame reset is actually not very common because it’s not a great conclusion to a game. You’ve spent the entire game developing a certain set of skills and knowledge; to reset all that tests the player on something else, or at least on a much less complex set of abilities/skills. Half-Life 2 can get away with that because the final weapon you get is a sort of superweapon and it’s more about you crushing your way into somewhere so difficult you probably needed that weapon.

  17. Steve C says:

    There was a good Star Trek remake– Star Trek: Lower Decks
    Highly recommend it if you like ST:TNG.

    1. Dotec says:

      If they took the Rick & Morty out of it.

      I like TNG and DS9, so I hope I’m not being too stuffy. But whenever people tell me this is a really great Star Trek show in the vein of TNG, I have to admit I just don’t see it whenever I watch a clip. I guess Star Trek’s ethos is more intact than in Picard or Discovery, but what Lower Decks doesn’t capture at all is the tone of the older shows.

      1. evilmrhenry says:

        The real issue with Lower Decks (as someone who’s watched the first season and plans to watch the second) is that it’s a half hour comedy show. Star Trek does well with having an encounter with a Space Weirdness, where the crew just trys to understand it for an hour. (Maybe throw in an ethical problem along the way.) But once you’ve added in a bunch of jokes, there’s not much room left for more than a basic framework of a plot. It’s good, but it’s missing aspects of Star Trek that I enjoy.

        Strange New Worlds might turn out good though. (I do find it frustrating that it’s taken so long for a Star Trek spin-off series to just try recreating the formula that made Star Trek a household name.)

  18. Marvin says:

    Oh wow, I messed up. The game’s actual name is Blaster Master, not the other way around! (see e.g. on steam). Nice trip to the 80s, though.

    I think Paul’s remark is spot on: the game only resets your tools (which have become kinda overpowered at that point), but most of the mechanics and most of the enemies stay the same. (Blaster Master Zero 2 in particular replaces most of your lethal weapons by very powerful, but non-lethal stun weapons. So, you got to learn to either stun and avoid enemies that you would have been able to simply kill earlier, or stun and barrage them with weaker weapons for the kill) This means the reset is probably more well-suited for skill-based games with character progression. Like Metroid or something.

    So, you asked for examples, Shamus? I will admit that resets at the endgame are not that typical, but resets that are endgame-ish do occur from time to time. For a good reason, I suppose. It is a rather risky thing to do, and doesn’t fit in the common player character empowerment (rather than human player challenging) narrative that the AAA’s are so fond of.

    The Deus Ex MD DLC A criminal past starts with resetting not only your gear, but also disabling all your augmentations. (The premise is that Adam Jensen goes undercover as in inmate in a max security prison for augmented humans, where of course the first thing they do to new prisoners is disable all the augmentations. I suppose surgically removing them would be a death sentence.) This DLC is one of the best DLC’s I’ve ever played, and I think part of it is due to handling this reset really well: it makes sense in the narrative, you have many options to get back your “original tools”, but you still have to get creative in order to achieve objectives with minimal tools.

    Arguably, TWEWY has a reset in each of its chapters, with the final one being rather notable. Not the best example, but close.

    Azure striker Gunvolt (a game by the same studio as Blaster Master) puts you in some sort of permanent “super mode” where you are only really vulnerable to most weapons if you’re firing your lighting bolts (which now have unlimited ammo), and can basically fly in the bonus “true ending” stage.., but of course all your enemies have this particular type of weapon that is your only real weakness now. (The level can also be played without super mode, but you have to do some crazy stuff since you cannot fly, like getting hit by a weak attack on purpose in order to use the invincibility frames granted after getting hit to avoid an instant death attack that can otherwise only reliably avoided by flying)

    Celeste does not reset your abilities, but “resets” your progress in climbing the mountain, so that the final level starts with a rerun of all the earlier stages. More of a final showdown than a real reset, but still notable.

    Maybe the “training wheels reset” is more common: you’re getting an overpowered ally/tool to carry you through the tutorial while you learn the ropes and before you enter the character progression proper. Then, after the tutorial, you lose the ally/tool forever (preferably in some dramatic fashion) and are on your own. So, you start of as a pretty cool guy, but then lose your stuff and end up becoming an even cooler guy in the end.

    Here I can list a few proper ones, Metroid Prime (1 and 3 with tools and allies, respectively), Fire Emblem (Jagen), and oh of course there’s an entire section of killing of mentor characters early in video games on tvtropes., Deus Ex HR (and MD? Can’t remember if you got stuff disabled after the first mission), and Need for Speed: Most Wanted are a few that come to mind. Seems to be somewhat of a trope in itself.

  19. Brisbe says:

    Endgame resets feel like an elevated version of the de-levelling trick that some games do near the end, where they have a section at the end of the game where you suddenly lose nearly all of your powers and get…nothing in return. Prototype comes to mind there, where I just decided during that section that I just didn’t care enough to push past it to get back to where the game was fun again.

  20. Amita says:

    Still, I think I’d much prefer even a failed attempt at an end game reset than an “endgame funnel”, such as at the end of Deus Ex HR, where tension and challenge is added at the cost of removing all but one of the otherwise viable playstyles.

    Agree with the dislike of the “Endgame Funnel” bits removing viable play styles. Absolutely hated those bits in the Splinter Cell games that forced you to break stealth to do a 3rd-person run and gun

    1. Syal says:

      You must be at least eighteen years old to view this content. Are you over eighteen and willing to see adult content?

      You know, it’s almost certainly just because of the title, but I do like the idea of a moderator watching a video of rolling a ball over rubber chickens to play the Jurassic Park theme, and deciding it must be some kind of sex thing.

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        it’s almost certainly just because of the title

        Especially funny given the sub it’s on; the whole point of r/peoplefuckingdying is to label everything with clickbait titles that make it all sound worse than it is. I don’t know enough about reddit to be sure but it’s possible the moderators intentionally set it to do that to all links as part of the joke.

        1. tmtvl says:

          It’s like ShadyURL in a way, then.

  21. Rick says:

    Awesome episode… I was keen to play Subversion when it came out so was sad when they pivoted away from it.

    For end-game resets… The original Super Mario Bros would simply let you play the game again but replace all the simple enemies with harder ones that are only stunned when you jump on them instead of killed.

  22. Dreadjaws says:

    Oh, my God. I swear to God until today I was almost convinced I had imagined Kidd Video. I looked for this show for years and I had never been able to find it because I watched it originally in its latin american Spanish version, and I think it was called something else. I remember specifically that the main foe was not called “Master Blaster” in it. His dubbed name was “Ruidín Ruidón”, which translates literally to “Little noise Big noise” but in reality it’d be akin to something like “Noisy Noiser”. It’s even cringier, is my point.

    The whole thing was immensely cringy in retrospective, but as a kid I loved it. You could see just from the intro alone, that it couldn’t decide what direction to take. A normal cartoon intro at the time would have either a character showing up to do some introductions, a bunch of action scenes with the characters doing their thing against a music background, clips from episodes of the show or just a basic recollection of the facts by a narrator. This particular intro looks like it tries to do all of these things but half-asses them all and it ends up being a bunch of schizophrenic nonsense.

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