Diecast #356: Fiverr Surgery

By Shamus Posted Monday Sep 27, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 103 comments

For those of you curious how the surgery went, check the show notes below. I’ve done a short write-up for those of you who don’t listen to the show. In any case, I really am on the mend now, and it looks like the medical community has run out of surprises for me.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

Show notes:
00:46 Fiverr, Copyright, and Unsolicited Advice

I’d link to Paul’s Fiverr, but I guess he’s still inexplicably banned. Nice work, Fiverr.

13:47 Shamus’ Slippery Slope of Misery

Me: Hey Doc, I have $PROBLEM.

Doc: No worries. We have $PROCEDURE, which will fix $PROBLEM painlessly and without recovery time.

Me: Great, sign me up.

Doc #2: Ah yes. See, your $PROBLEM is just a smidgen more… extreme than the average person’s. $PROCEDURE won’t work for you. You need $PROCEDURE2.

Me: Okay, I guess?

Doc #2: Now we’re ready to do the $PROCEDURE2. When you wake up from general anesthesia…

Me: Wait, what? General what?

Doc #2: …you’ll want to take these $MASSIVE_PAINKILLERS for a few days.

Me: Yikes! What happened to minimum recovery time and no pain?

Doc #2: Yeah, this is going to be super-rough. Anyway, g’night!


Me: Oof. I’m awake again, although I wish I wasn’t. This is really bad!

Doc #2: Yep. Gonna be a rough couple of days for you. But at least you won’t have any complications. Good luck!

Me: Help. I’m having complications.

Emergency Room Nurse: Yeah. Really common for guys your age to have this problem after $PROCEDURE2. Here, this will fix your problem. It’s incredibly unpleasant.

Me: Oh wow. This is indeed unpleasant. I can’t believe I have two more days of this.


Me: Ow. This still hurts a lot. What happened to “a couple of days”?

Specialist: Sounds like bad news. You’d better come to my office right away so I can make you extremely uncomfortable!

Me: Yikes. I did not like that at all.

Specialist: I’ll bill you.

(Exaggerated for comedic effect. The doctors didn’t literally spring this stuff on me at the last minute. But it was a long process of “in for a penny, in for a pound” that took me places I did not plan to go.)

I’m sitting at my desk again, but I’m also a whiny mope and I haven’t had the gumption to fire up any videogames. Hopefully this blows over soon. I got DEATH LOOP the day before the surgery and I haven’t even launched it yet.

20:54 Valheim (Hearth and Home update)

Link (YouTube)

21:25 Filament (suggested in the comments)

Link (YouTube)

21:50 Project Highrise (for the nostalgia)

Link (YouTube)

26:05 Mailbag: The Worst Piece of Hardware You’ve Ever Had

Dear Diecast,

I hope you’re doing well! Yesterday I stumbled upon one of Shamus’ old articles about how his video card died on him after only a year and a half (https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=10085). It was a harrowing tale of anxiety, anger and confusion. And it got me thinking – what’s the worst piece of hardware you’ve ever had? It could be one that failed extremely quickly, or just one which was agonisingly obtuse or annoying.

Keep Being Awesome,

In case you missed the rant way back in 2006, here is my answer.

31:48 Mailbag: KOTOR “remake”

What do you think of the recently announced KOTOR “complete remake”? It’s being done by a tiny non-Bioware studio, they’re giving it new gameplay of course, and the credited writing team is bigger than the original game’s so we can expect massive narrative changes as well.

KOTOR 1 is old and buggy enough that it could use a remaster, but if they’re keeping neither the gameplay nor the writing of the original then I wish they’d throw those resources at making a new game instead. It feels like the only reason this exists is because brand recognition is a powerful market force, and Bioware was more willing to license out remake rights than “new KOTOR game” rights.


36:23 Mailbag: Cheaty Bosses

Dear Diecast,

I can appreciate good enemy design, and those of bosses in particular. One technique (or perhaps “design pattern” if you will) that is interesting is the degree in which a boss is allowed to “cheat” the game mechanics. Something simple is making a boss a “clone” of your character, except that it has infinite ammo/mana (e.g. Bloodstained). More interesting is a boss that suddenly has immunity against a subset of your weapons (e.g. Blaster Master Zero). The end of the spectrum is probably the boss encounter that cannot be (or _almost_ cannot be, see Disgaea) defeated. What is your favourite cheaty boss? Which boss (that could be defeated) went too far?

As for me, I do like the surprise element in a boss. As in “wait shit, what did he just do, can you even do that?” Presentation plays a big part here. Compare the boss of Megaman X (1), Sigma, with Megaman Zero (1), Copy X. The final phases of these bosses are very similar (probably intentional, the original story had “what if X has gone maverick” as the hook, but CAPCOM didn’t like that, hence Copy X. All in all, not the worst decision of the company.*), since both have a pair of moving platform-like things on going up and down on the sides of the screen, which you need to grab in order to be able to shoot at the boss. However, I find Copy X more impressive, as the fight start with him destroying half the floor of the room your were just fighthing him with the platforms, immediately telling you these things are important. (Also, he arguably cheats by having an attack, which, if you get hit while hanging on a platform, drags you down into the pit, which kills your instantly. No other boss in that game (IIRC) has an instant kill attack)

Of course, Platinum excels in this presentation element. I find the second phase of the Senator Armstrong fight in Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (after you suplexed metal gear Excelsus) very good. Most bosses in the game have some form of evasion, jumping while you should USE YOUR INTELLECT; EVADE MY BLOWS, summoning minions, MAGNETIC FORCE and smoke grenades (Who knows, where I’ll come from?), being FUCKING INVINCIBLE (I apologize for the language, this is a quote), being a Brazilian samurai, but the senator doesn’t bother and just tanks it all. The third and final phase continues the theme by making offense the defense: you don’t have time to attack the boss when he triggers miniature volcanic eruptions all over, but it cheats less by giving you the ability to actually damage him. He still cheats somewhat, as he is the only enemy with a health recovery move (healing him completely unless interrupted), but the great thing is that you can punish him for it by hitting the ghostly power cables just right. Punishing a cheaty boss is very satisfying. Once again Platinum has nailed it. (I could argue Platinum usually knows how to use a QTE, but perhaps another time)

Still, there are a few mechanics that can’t stand, and especially not when under the pressure of a boss. Katana Zero is an excellent game with great bosses overall, but the second phase of the secret boss is too much for me. You suddenly get some sort of agility test where you need to destroy a target in a dark room several times…, but there are increasing distortions applied to your vision (flipped, inverted, rotated, shifted, duplicated, god knows what else, I’m trying to forget this nightmare). It’s a shame, because I really want to like it, it is original, fits the boss, it is actual quite fitting that it is a nightmare for me, is a good build-up for the third phase, but still, playing it is just no fun for me. I don’t want a chore before I get to the final phase of the secret boss. They went too far.

Oh, let me finish with a shout-out to all those bosses that aren’t supposed to be defeated, but can. I already mentioned Disgaea, but Inti Creates has several in their games, Azure Striker Gunvolt (2 in particular), Blaster Master Zero 3, maybe Megaman Zero 3? (It’s an actual boss-fight, but the boss instantly regenerates upon defeat, and you run away from it in a cut-scene) May they live long, but die eventually.

*footnote: That honor goes to effectively killing the entire Megaman series to focus on making pachinko machines and PC ports of the existing games. Thankfully, Inti Creates managed to make a spiritual successor to the ZX-series with a new IP of their own (i.e. Gunvolt) (even after Keiji Inafune’s kickstarter disaster (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mighty_No._9).

With kind regards,


46:33 Mailbag: Converting DX9 to DX11

Dear Diecast,

I don’t know if you’re tuned in to MMORPG news, but there’s a pretty exciting development happening in Guild Wars 2 this week. The game has been running on DirectX9 since its release in 2012 (I’m pretty sure the original game was as well, and that’s why they stuck with instead of upgrading at the time) but they are opening up a DX11 open beta and have stated their plans to eventually transition completely.

Even more exciting from a game development perspective: they just published a blog post where they use Telemetry screenshots to visualize how DirectX11 (and the BGFX open source library) is going to – hopefully – improve performance by spreading CPU cycles more evenly across each rendering frame.


Considering the only reason I have even the slightest bit of knowledge about what it going on in these screenshots is from reading Shamus’ posts over the years, I wanted to hear your opinion on this conversion. How (un)common is it to switch rendering systems on a live game like this? What kinds of wacky bugs can we expect? Are there any insights you can glean from these screenshots that a total layperson might not be able to see? Do you think this is likely to really speed up performance in general? What, really, is DX11 doing, because that entire last section of the blog post is gibberish to me.

Thanks for your insights!


54:11 Mailbag: MCU Highlights

Dear Diecast

I’ve always found it fascinating how the MCU has become a cultural touchstone without ever producing a “stand-out” or “masterpiece” film, just through the novelty of the shared universe concept and releasing a boatload of consistent (for the most part) movies. So do you actually have any favorite MCU films or even ones that you love?

-Dragon Age


From The Archives:

103 thoughts on “Diecast #356: Fiverr Surgery

  1. MerryWeathers says:

    31:48 Mailbag: KOTOR “remake”

    I agree with everyone here, I would rather that they just reboot the Old Republic era with completely new stories and visuals (I still maintain that taking place a millenia before the films should at least warrant the setting looking more unique and original, which the original KOTOR ditched in favor of reusing the OT’s aesthethics and technology level) instead of just retelling the original although it’s pretty obvious as to why they did it aside from brand appeal, with Revan probably being the most requested character to be made canon from the EU by the fandom and the major presence of Mandalorians in the game, which could allow them to take advantage of The Mandalorian’s popularity.

    54:11 Mailbag: MCU Highlights

    My favorites are Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Endgame.
    Winter Soldier basically does a grounded and serious MCU movie right and has some of the best actions scenes in the franchise (coincidence that they aren’t CGI-fests?) but I do feel the film’s reputation of being a “political thriller” is exaggerated, maybe an action conspiracy thriller but there’s nothing genuinely political about it.
    I feel GOTG Vol. 2 is great because it’s mostly standalone from the rest of the MCU, it’s completely centered around the characters so the film actually spends all of its time exploring and developing them instead of trying to setup or tie back into the rest of the MCU. Being character-driven is also the biggest reason why it doesn’t feel formulaic compared to the other Marvel movies, it’s not like Shang-Chi (where despite also being mostly stand-alone, is still really bogged down by the above averageness of the plot that goes through the motions of your average action movie).
    Avengers Endgame being a favorite is a surprisingly personal opinion, the general consenseus is that Infinity War was the superior film for being tight and having breakneck pacing but I really liked Endgame for taking its time and being a “whole film” where each act is clearly defined. I also can’t help but appreciate the sheer ambition of being the epic culmination of the franchise up to that point and somehow (mostly) succeeding at it, it was a 11th anniversary celebration of the MCU.

    1. Winter Soldier is definitely my favorite, but I think Thor: Ragnarok takes second place for me. It kinda makes me wish they hadn’t sold Loki so hard as a villain in Avengers because the transition from “Loki is basically Hitler” to “Loki is basically the equivalent of a dog that pees on the carpet and eats your furniture but you love them anyway”.

      1. Melfina the Blue says:

        Jennifer, your tastes are perfect, imho! I also love Black Panther, mostly because I love going “Squee! The High Museum!” What can I say, it’s an art museum I’ve been to so much I probably had their exhibits memorized at one point, and was my first art museum, plus it looks cool (even without the giant mobile that’s normally out front).

      2. Jeff says:

        Loki’s development isn’t very jarring if you had been following his character arc through all the movies. Loki’s behavior in Avengers is very much a consequence how Thor ended, and his behavior in Ragnarok is very much a consequence of the events that took place in Dark World.

    2. Redrock says:

      The popularity of The Winter Soldier, quite frankly, puzzles me. It’s a decent movie, and remarkably well shot by MCU standards, but I find it so hard to care about most of the characters. The Bucky drama does very little for me, and the whole Hydra thing seems just to far-fetched for its own good. Thing is, you show me a junk planet where Jeff Goldblum runs gladiator fights, and I’m fine with it, because I don’t need it to make sense. But you tell me that a weird-ass Nazi cult has infiltrated who knows how many branches of the American government and I start thinking about logistics, politics, intentions and things just start coming apart at the seams.

      Personally, I think Thor: Ragnarok is among my favorites, as is the original Iron Man. There’s something so self-assuredly competent about Jon Favreau’s direction, and Downey Jr. gives one of his two best performances as Tony Stark in the original, the second one probably being Endgame, although he is also very good in Civil War, which is a movie I hate with a vengeance otherwise.

  2. Chris says:

    I made the mistake of reading your HP story. I (against better judgement) bought a HP machine and its a piece of crap. If you put it in standbye (by closing it or letting it idle for too long) the internet software shuts down and does not fix itself until a full restart. So you have to shut it down every time you decide to not use it for a moment.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Oh, and here I was for a moment thinking Shamus was writing Harry Potter fanfiction.

    2. pseudonym says:

      I had fairly decent business HP systems at work. With proper UEFI implementations! So you can install linux and windows on GPT partitions without hassle. (Dell, you suck!)

      But my brother has a HP non-business laptop and that had sucky audio. And there is this video from Gamers Nexus about a HP pre-built pc: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4OZGmWZyhac . I guess they rip off consumers all the time.

  3. Dreadjaws says:

    MCU Highlights:

    The MCU has been in a steep decline for me ever since Winter Soldier. That and the original Iron Man are still my favorites, and I can watch them over and over without ever getting bored. But when Winter Soldier and GOTG came out, it’s clear they preferred to take the approach of the latter rather than the former for the whole universe, even though it’s an approach that doesn’t work for every character and story you want to tell. Financially it certainly worked for them but it’s clear they gave up trying to tell compelling stories and went all in with the popcorn blockbuster style. Nothing wrong with that, but at some point it became boring for me. I’d rather have films take risks and fail miserably than not take risks at all.

    And I’ve ranted about all this before, but this style has permeated the entire industry, so now every action movie feels like an MCU film. I’m sure for the majority of people this is heaven, but I’ve grown so bored of the same thing over and over that I rarely feel anything even resembling interest for new movies these days. Oh, what’s that? A new Matrix movie, you say? Eh. Another Jurassic World? Oh, I’m sure it’ll be as brilliant as the last two.

    Look, I’m not some kind of movie snob. I usually only want one thing from a movie: that it succeds at entertaining me. But I’ve had to lower this bar in the recent years to “I’ll call it a triumph if it doesn’t severely insult my intelligence”.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Ah but you see, the average movie-goer doesn’t need or want anything beyond an exciting empowerment fantasy, so that’s the target that is aimed for. Sometimes those might have good characters, story, or plot, but it’s not a defining characteristic.

      1. Freddo says:

        Blockbuster movies definitely feel like the script writers have been instructed to make sure the movie is accessible starting at two standard deviations below average intelligence. The movie “Knives Out” was hyped as full of surprising twists, but unfortunately every one of those twists had more bells and whistles on them than the infamous 11 foot 8 inch train crossing.

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          Yeah, that was a really weird movie. I gave it an honest chance despite not being a fan of Johnson’s work (not that I hate his work either, I just find it “meh”), and while the overall character interactions were alright, the whole mystery aspect was a mess of predictable nonsense. The problem with having your entire style being about subverting expectations is that people will see it coming too. This is the same issue I have with Mark Millar’s writing.

      2. Thomas says:

        Hollywood has figured out a formula for ‘fun’ and they can reliably make money with it, so now every film is following the formula (and the marketing is following the formula) trying to alter just enough that they can convince you the same thing is new.

        I’m part of the problem though. I go to the cinema more because marketing and social pressure pushed me than because of the film. I want to see The Green Knight. Will I see The Green Knight? Probably not, because I can also watch Foundation on Apple TV or rewatch How I Met Your Mother on Netflix, or play Rocket League. But I will go if a friend invites me to watch a Marvel film. A good time isn’t incentive enough any more.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          If you need social pressure to see a movie, just ask someone to bug you about it, like a diet buddy.

          Heck, I’ll do it. See The Green Knight! David Lowery’s a unique, visually-gifted director and his scripts are ambitious and interesting even when they don’t totally work! You’re gonna feel great when you try to talk about this film to any normal person and get nothing but a blank stare!

          Actually, the more effective way is to just ask someone, “So have you seen [film]?” whenever you see them, avoiding that moment of having to break eye contact and say, “Uh, n-no, not yet…” usually does it.

          1. Melfina the Blue says:

            Random question, is the Green Knight about Sir Gawain of Round Table fame, or something else? Cause I would totally be down for a good historical fantasy, but if it’s the Green Lantern stuff, not so much.

            I like superhero movies, and they’re quite entertaining for what they are, but generally if I want a movie that I’m going to think about, I want to see it at home, where I can rewatch bits as I like, can make sure it’s quiet, and can tailor the timing to when I want to watch something thinky. That’s generally not a “out with friends” movie, I’d rather do a comedy for that (it’s way harder to laugh at stuff by yourself), or explosions, there’s not really a wrong time for explosions.

            1. The Rocketeer says:

              *shrug* No idea. I want to see Green Knight but I haven’t, because I only see movies due to marketing and social pressure.

            2. Syal says:

              The Green Knight (R 2021) — King Arthur’s headstrong nephew embarks on a daring quest to confront the Green Knight, a mysterious giant who appears at Camelot.

              Adapted from: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

              Looks like it.

              1. Thomas says:

                I think they’ve tinkered with it a bit, so it won’t be an absolutely faithful recreation (if ‘faithful’ makes any sense for a myth developed by continual reinterpretation), but from what I’ve seen of the trailers, they’re hitting the key outlines of the Gawain story.

                1. Syal says:

                  Yeah, it might end up being like the Beowulf movie, or that Romeo and Juliet movie where everyone had guns. But it’s definitely not Green Lantern.

                  1. Shufflecat says:

                    They’ve changed two or three details. Nothing near on the level of Beowolf or Romeo + Juliet. And From what I’ve heard from people familiar with the traditional story, the changes actually suit it well, rather than feeling arbitrary or cynical.

                    Stylistically it’s a mythic or folklore telling rather than a realistic “historical” telling. IMO that’s probably as it should be (and IMO definitely more interesting). The Arthurian saga is myth, after all.

                    1. Redrock says:

                      I mean, they’ve changed a lot of stuff, including the ending and, like, the central message of the story. Honestly, the new message is pretty terrible, even though the movie is pretty cool. Now, in the original legend (no, I’m not going to mark the ending of a centuries old legend as a spoiler) Gawain attempts to cheat his way out of the Green Knight’s blow by using a magic sash. The Green Knight, who was put up to the whole thing by Morgana, recognises the trick, but basically forgives Gawain and sends him home. Gawain henceforth proceeds to wear the sash as sign of his shame at trying to cheat and as a reminder to be better. Which is a pretty nice takeaway.

                      In the movie, on the other hand, it’s all turned around. At the last moment Gawain decides not to cheat and removes the protective sash. The Knight praises Gawain for his honesty and honor, and then proceeds to chop off his head (offscreen), as per the initial compact. Which kinda makes it seem that the movie is saying that there’s no redemption, no chance to grow. Transgress once, and even if you try to atone and become a better person, you’re still getting your full punishment, no clemency, no mercy. Sigh. It’s a very, for lack of a better word, modern sentiment, I’m afraid.

  4. bobbert says:

    Shamus! If I didn’t know better, I would suspect you are insinuating that doctors are less than fully honest.

  5. Hal says:

    “Sounds like bad news. You’d better come to my office right away so I can make you extremely uncomfortable!”

    This is basically what communicating with my boss is like.

    In any case, your tale of woe regarding your HP computer is strikingly similar to the story of our first Win95 machine, a Compaq Presario. Man, that thing was a piece of . . . work. The thing had two redeeming factors:

    1) It had a copy of Weezer’s Buddy Holly video on it. I don’t remember why, but that was cool.
    2) It came with a keyboard where the space bar is split; left half was the space bar, the right half was a backspace key. I really liked that setup, but I’ve had trouble finding keyboards with that arrangement ever since.

    Oh, and my favorite MCU movie is the first Captain America. Lots to love about that movie.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Windows 95 was shipped with Buddy Holly to show off its multi-media abilities; It wasn’t specific to any brand of hardware.

      1. Nick+Pitino says:

        It also had that Hover game which 9 year old me thought was just the bees knees!

    2. MerryWeathers says:

      Oh, and my favorite MCU movie is the first Captain America. Lots to love about that movie.

      The first half of the film, up to when Steve rescues the american troops from Hydra was great but then the movie didn’t really know what do between that and the climax so it kind of just meanders around for a while which deterred a lot of the film’s quality for me. Still, the ending is one of the most memorable and poignant scenes in the MCU.

  6. Daimbert says:

    I’m sitting at my desk again, but I’m also a whiny mope and I haven’t had the gumption to fire up any videogames. Hopefully this blows over soon. I got DEATH LOOP the day before the surgery and I haven’t even launched it yet.

    Even when you get your gumption back, you still might not be able to launch it.

    As for MCU movies, I ranked them myself on my blog three years ago, and think that only Infinity War and Endgame would have been reasonably high on the list since, and would probably come in just behind the Avengers. Then again, I’ve only rewatched those two when I could watch the two of them back-to-back in one day.

  7. Lino says:

    Once again – welcome back, Shamus! Good to hear everything turned out alright in the end.

    Even though I like playing platformers and shooters, I can’t really think of all that many cheaty bosses. That being said, of the few I can think of, by far my favourite is the first time you fight Desann in Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast. It comes at a time when you don’t even have a lightsaber, let alone any Force Powers, and Desann not only has all the powers of a Jedi Master, but he’s also got God Mode. So not only are literally all of your weapons useless against him, but even if you manage to land an unlikely lucky shot, you still wouldn’t be able to beat him. It was an amazing way to reinforce just how powerful he is, and just how outmatched you are. And it also served as something to strive for. Because, while you weren’t this powerful yet, in time you could become this powerful.

    In terms of Guild Wars, the DX switch really is strange. The only other MMO I’ve heard making a similar switch is Black Desert Online where a few years ago they switched engines from Unreal 3 to Unreal 4. In that case it kinda made sense, because there really is a big difference between the two. It’s still an awful engine when it comes to MMOs, but then again what do I know :D

    When it comes to Marvel movies, the ones I really like are Guardians 2, Ragnarok, the first Avengers, Endgame and Doctor Strange. The latter of which I really liked because of the couple of Eastern Philosophy themes it toys with from time to time. Which is something we rarely get to see in Hollywood.

    1. tmtvl says:

      I don’t really play shooters, outside of the Touhou series. I played through Gradius and one of the Cotton games once, but horizontally scrolling doesn’t really work for me.

      In platformers the first cheat-y boss that springs to mind is doppelgänger in Symphony of the Night, who can use sub-weapons infinitely, as though he had infinite hearts. That said, he isn’t a very difficult boss to deal with so he isn’t very memorable.

      In RPGs I know that unbeatable bosses are their own trope, but I like how it was done in Eternal Filena, where some bosses are unbeatable not because you are meant to lose, but because your party and the boss aren’t really fighting each other. The game basically uses unbeatable bosses as a sort of in-engine cutscene, and even does stuff like making an unbeatable boss beatable after some in-battle dialogue.

      1. Addie says:

        Thing is, a ‘mirror boss fight’ done well can be the best bit of a game.

        Devil May Cry, face off against Vergil, who has a similar moveset to you, and you just have to be better with it than he is? Generally the best boss fight of any game in the series.

        Dark Souls 3, Soul of Cinder, who has (every) end-level build of any character you could create, and yet you can still counter anything that comes your way? Awesome, draws a nice line under the whole trilogy.

        Doppelgänger in SotN? The combat’s not all that deep anyway, it’s the third boss fight in the game (second as Alucard), and you’ve been railroaded to that fight and almost certainly don’t have many options to how to approach it? Cheese him, and get on with the game. Now, if it was Portrait of Ruin; the Richter fight is nearly the last in the game, and you’ve a chance to use all your skills and abilities – that’s an awesome mirror boss fight.

        1. Lino says:

          Oh yes, the fights against Vergil were definitely my favourite both in 3, and in 5. I even liked the one in the remake (as well as several other aspects of the remake itself)!

      2. Fred Starks says:

        Heck, Eternal Filena, that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. That game had a lot of unique design choices, and it really is an outside the norm game for it’s time in a lot of ways.

        The battle/cutscenes were used quite well, and something about the pacing always got across if it was going to be winnable or not. I’ve always disliked it when that doesn’t happen, as I’ll inevitably waste a good amount of resources on the fight. Regardless, it’s still a lot better than the “win the in-game battle, lose in the cutscene after”.

        Radiant Historia does something similar from what I remember with a mid-to-late game fight that’s more of acting out an argument for the first half. Then again, that game’s main plot hook starts off of an unwinnable fight you’re trying to avoid.

        1. tmtvl says:

          I love EF, even if it never reached the West. It did many interesting things both in terms of gameplay and story that I would have loved other games to pick up. It may be the best licensed game I’ve ever played.

    2. evilmrhenry says:

      Path of Exile has also made a similar leap (from DX9 to Vulcan/DX11). In that case, it’s because performance is one of the game’s weaknesses.

  8. Syal says:

    The new KOTOR remaster will be a full action game that takes place entirely on Taris. Also Revan will pop up out of nowhere a bunch of times to taunt the main character. There’ll be big bossfights and campy throwbacks and it’ll be great.

    the MCU has become a cultural touchstone without ever producing a “stand-out” or “masterpiece” film,

    They absolutely had a standout film; The Avengers 1 had five years of build-up, was a big ensemble movie featuring four heroes from their own movies and two villains from same, and actually pulled it off. Interactions were fun and in-character,everyone had their moment to shine, the villain was compelling, it worked, Compare it to The Dark Knight, the biggest scale superhero movie of the time, and Avengers holds up much better. And then compare it to The Dark Knight Rises which came out the same year and fell on its face. Avengers 1 was the standout.

    (Guardians 1 and 2 are my favorites, they get rewatched regularly.)

    1. Mattias42 says:

      I think Doctor Strange deserves some big credit, too, for what it did.

      That entire ‘mystic’ side of the Marvel Universe was considered basically untranslatable weirdness for DECADES… until they pulled it off and had a genuine smash-hit on their hands.

      I mean, just compare and contrast how even the comics basically had the good Doctor Strange… basically be a sometimes side-kick to Spider-Man, because his own books just didn’t sell. To near instant house hold name and key power-player in End Game? Man, that’s a leap and a half.

      Will admit though: Always been my own favorite comic hero, so a bit biased. Was SO HAPPY to see him on the silver screen, and with such a big name star portraying him, nonetheless.

      1. Fizban says:

        The Doctor Strange movie, much like Scott Pilgrim, feels like it hit me so effectively that I should dislike it because it’s probably fooling me into ignoring something negative. But every time I watch Scott Pilgrim it’s just fun, and if I could be bothered to Disney+ I’m sure I’d just have fun rewatching Strange- actually that’ll be one to actually add some weight when the next one comes out.

        1. Mattias42 says:

          Man, Scott Pilgrim vs The World deserved SO MUCH better then it got in theaters. Also a fav of mine. One of the few movies I own on both DVD and Blu-Ray, even.

          Really wanted to go see it, but I got the flu that year, and when I was better it was just gone. Poof. Poor movie barely got a week on the cinema screens around where I live.

          Really glad it’s been mostly validated by history as a great movie since then. Just baffles me to this day how few chances that movie got despite how generally good reviews from both critics and the public it got.

      2. MerryWeathers says:

        The mirror dimension visuals and the showdown with Dormammu were really the only standout moments of the film, the rest were pretty average.
        Strange himself was utilized better in Infinity War and a certain episode of What If…? than his own debut film, I definitely prefer his “wise mystical figure with the occasional witty attitude” characterization that he got in Ragnarok and Infinity War than him just being Tony Stark 2.0. in Dr Strange 2016.

    2. John says:

      The thing about the The Avengers is that it is not really very good. It’s okay. Fine even. But as a film it is more notable for having a bunch of characters from different movies all in the same movie than it is for, y’know, its actual cinematic qualities. If you aren’t already invested in those characters and excited about seeing them together then all the movie has going for it are some mediocre action scenes. There are no themes to speak of and (with the possible exception of Bruce Banner) none of the characters has anything like an arc.

      Thor: Ragnarok, by contrast, is great, and I say that speaking as a man who hasn’t seen any of the other Thor films and had no prior investment in Thor. Shamus is on to something here. I wouldn’t call Ragnarok a masterpiece any more than I’d call The Avengers that, but I can honestly say that it does stand out from the other MCU films I’ve seen, which, as many people have noted, all tend to blur together after a while. I’ve always been largely indifferent towards the MCU but I’m really looking forward to the next Thor movie.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        Thor Ragnarok was fun but just fine, I think it lacked the heart of Taika’s best films (Hunt for the Wilderpeople and JoJo Rabbit) and that’s what was keeping it from being as strong as GOTG Vol 2.

        Love and Thunder has me interested too though, maybe Taika will somehow make the Jane Foster romance work and that will form the emotional core of that movie. Combine that with apparently how insane it gets compared to Ragnarok then it could be a great film.

      2. Syal says:

        But as a film it is more notable for having a bunch of characters from different movies all in the same movie than it is for, y’know, its actual cinematic qualities.

        Pretty sure I disagree, but you’d have to define those cinematic qualities for me to be sure. Avengers isn’t some heart-rending life changer, but it’s got bright colors and humorous quips and has story beats clear enough to follow with the sound muted, and all the heroess get their own individual fights against the villain.

        none of the characters has anything like an arc.

        Disagree. Stark has an arc about learning to appreciate the rank-and-file grunts like Cap and Phil. Black Widow’s is kind of hard to define, but I’d say it’s defining what Hawkeye means to her. CapAm’s would be about finding familiarity in a foreign world. Thor would… well I’m not sure about Thor either, but it’s definitely about his relationship with Loki. Close to the Black Widow/Hawkeye relationship, but with a different outcome.

        Thor: Ragnarok, by contrast, is great, and I say that speaking as a man who hasn’t seen any of the other Thor films

        Here we agree, Thor Ragnarok is a lot of fun. My biggest problem with it is several (quite funny) jokes rely on having seen previous movies, most prominently Age of Ultron*, which I don’t want to be reminded of. (And the meta-knowledge that all the character development Thor was having would absolutely be undone in the next movie to get him back on brand.) I’d put it a hair under the Guardians movies.

        Good call on skipping the other Thor movies. Thor 1 is okay, and seems like an attempt at actual pathos; Loki basically falls to evil out of a self-inflicted sense of inferiority. But, it’s not good enough to compete with more serious non-Marvel pathos movies.

        Then Thor 2 is one of the weakest Marvel movies; I think the villains are the Dark Elves, but they look like the Borg, and Asgard looks like the Lord of the Rings, so it feels like Star Trek vs. Middle Earth. Also the doctor from the first movie is insane-for-laughs now because the writers didn’t know what to do with him.

        *(Having listened to the Diecast now, I’ll say Ultron isn’t boring, he’s inscrutable. You can’t tell what his plan is because he only ever mumbles half of it. You can’t tell what his limitations are because you only ever see part of him. At the end, Vision has to tell the audience Ultron is dead because otherwise the audience has no way of knowing. (“I’ve said aloud that you’re the last one, and that forces it to be true.”) The movie’s got other problems, but Avengers movies are held together by their villains, and Ultron is a foundation of mud.)

        (Also Black Widow is a love interest now because the writers didn’t know what to do with her.)

        1. John says:

          Look, the stuff you’re saying about The Avengers is mostly true. It’s an impressive logistical accomplishment. “Okay, Whedon. We want you to make a superhero movie with a huge cast. They all need roughly equal screen time and the dork with the arrows and the chick in the catsuit need to be just as plot-relevant as the thunder god and the unstoppable green giant.” I’m honestly impressed that the film is as good as it is. But I could never go so far as to say that Tony Stark changing his mind between one scene and the next constitutes an arc. The Avengers has too many characters and too many mandatory extended punch-ups crammed into two hours to waste time on things like arcs. It’s a perfectly pleasant film, but unless you’re already invested in the characters it is not a compelling film. Of course, if you aren’t already invested in the characters then you are probably not watching The Avengers in the first place.

          The only reason I’ve seen The Avengers is that the rest of my family spent a good chunk of this year streaming Marvel movies in our living room and I thought I should finally get around to seeing what all the fuss was about. I could have used those two hours I spent on The Avengers for video games, but I suppose I don’t regret it too much. I do regret the time I spent watching the other Avengers movies though. As a series, the Avengers films have an unfortunate tendency to end in confused CGI melees and that tendency only got worse over time, culminating in the giant mush of candy-colored CGI bodies that is the climax of End Game.

  9. Chad+Miller says:

    re: KOTOR and exclusive – I think it’s going to be PS/PC but not Xbox for some time period, much like Deathloop.

    Speaking of which…the more I hear about Deathloop the more I hear a subtext of “This is more Mooncrash than Dishonored, but you don’t remember Prey, and in fact I probably don’t remember Prey, so we’re not talking about Prey”. In one extreme case someone linked me an early review where the thesis was literally “finally an Arkane immersive sim I like” and it didn’t mention Prey even once. It’s so weird.

  10. Canthros says:

    While I don’t think the MCU has had many (any?) genuinely bad movies, I think they’re probably more notable for the logistical than the cinematic accomplishments.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I had to walk out of Avengers: End Game because it did its central plot-point as a deus ex machina, rather than something that was set up in advance. That, and the characters acted like dumbasses when the plot required it.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        Remember that time Marvel spent $100 million dollars on Ant-Man and the Wasp to essentially just setup a plot point for their other $400 million dollar movie?

    2. Steve C says:

      I think Ten Rings counts as a ‘bad Marvel movie’.
      It’s a good movie on its own. I enjoyed it. It’s a bad MCU movie though. It would be better if all the Marvel aspects were removed. Especially the weirdly timed comedy beats common in Marvel movies and the obvious tie ins to the larger MCU. It’s like they took a good movie then shackled it with some extra bits that don’t really belong. Other than that, solid movie.

  11. Zgred77 says:

    Beyond Good & Evil was my first game ever and that final boss was crushing me over and over. Heck, to this day I don’t know how to avoid his attack from above (and in order to defeat him you have to hit him six consecutive times, so you have to avoid this). All of that for a cliffhanger that’s still unresolved (and probably never will be).

    That said, I don’t remember any QTE sequences in that fight.

    1. Fred Starks says:

      Had Beyond Good and Evil growing up myself, and the final fight absolutely stumped young me as well. Maybe I ought to go back and finally beat it and get that unsatisfactory cliffhanger.

      These kinds of situations is the reason why I’ve always liked the approach for final boss fights focusing on being more cinematic rather than mechanically challenging. Nothing kills the mood and story tension more than hitting a “welp, gonna retry that” in the climax or finale. Getting that boss fight to be properly cinematic is a challenge though, because you want the boss to feel like they put up an actual fight while still making it hard to lose unceremoniously.

      The most egregious example I can think of being Baten Kaitos: Origins in which the final two fights (true ending fight not included) are extremely gimmicked battles that will catch you off guard and easily force a reset. The latter fight is also just particularly tedious due to it’s gimmick.

      I’ve got nothing against having boss fights that are tests of strength though- those can provide a unique sense of satisfaction. And while it’s not impossible to have both this sense of enjoyment and a well hitting climax/finale in the same fight, that experience can hardly be guaranteed between players due to player skill always being a random factor.

      1. Zgred77 says:

        You know, I’d actually like this fight… if it wasn’t for that death-from-above attack. But for my younger self there was definitely a sense of accomlishment after I’ve won – since I believed this to be impossible. I prefer the final boss to be the ultimate test of my abilities that I aquired throughout the game. In this case however, you are absolutely right, it really killed the momentum of the story, it was simply too difficult compared to the rest of the game (although BG&E had some sudden difficulty spikes).

  12. Leviathan902 says:

    So has anybody played Deathloop? I have and I absolutely love it, but it’s definitely a strange beast

    Having played through Dishonored 2 pretty recently, from a gameplay perspective, it’s almost literally exactly the same. The only real difference being there’s no quick save so you can’t save scum, and there’s no penalty to breaking stealth (the game doesn’t judge you at the end based on how stealthy you are) and there isn’t even a non-lethal option for anything. It’s amazing what a world of difference that makes for the way you play it, and I’ve been enjoying that immensely.

    Most of the criticisms I’ve seen about the game (aside from the bugs) are:

    1) the game is very linear despite being a time-loop assassination game
    2) the game is easy/the AI is bad/easy to cheese

    1) Doesn’t bother me much. It’s true that at first the game seems like a crazy version of Hitman where you have to explore and figure out the best way to accomplish your objective. The fact that ultimately there’s only 1 way to do it and you’re just uncovering it as you go along, and it’s explicitly spelled out exactly what you have to do at any given point in time seems to to be frustrating a lot of people. I don’t mind it, and the fact that our expectation seems to be one thing based on a totally different genre/game franchise and the game ultimately deviates from that faulty expectation I find hard to fault the game for. Even if having multiple options and ways to complete would have made for a more interesting game, it doesn’t make what I actually am doing in the game less enjoyable for me.

    As for 2) Game difficulty, as always, this is such a hard thing to address since people approach it in such vastly different ways. Utlimately, I don’t find the game overly easy. It’s very easy to draw aggro and get overwhelemed and killed. Granted you can come right back 2 times, but still. I have died on runs a couple times and lost my loot and come close a couple times as well. Not a lot, but enough to add tension. Also there are some missions that absolutely require stealth so if you screw it up you fail. That being said, it’s also true that it’s really easy to cheese the AI. Hell there’s a sniper rifle you can get that basically breaks the game and hacked turrets are way OP. While I certainly wish the AI was better I don’t find it ruins the experience.

    So both criticsms are true, but don’t bother me personally much. What do you guys think? (I’m playing on PS5 btw, so I haven’t encountered bugs)

    1. Gethsemani says:

      I finished it last night and was both impressed and frustrated as it ended. It is all the best parts of Arkane’s game design but the loop just isn’t strong enough to sustain itself for me. There came a time about 10-14 hours in when I was mostly done with discovering how to set up the final loop and lacked only a few clues that were relatively easy to get that I was starting to feel that it was more a slog then an enjoyable game. That feeling stemmed from the fact that most of what I needed to do, especially as I wanted to wrap up a few side tasks, needed me to be in different places in the morning to basically flip a switch or maybe do two errands and then flip a switch. So I would enter a map, run to the location, flip the switch and run back, skip noon, do the afternoon stuff, maaaaybe do an evening run for a slab upgrade and then repeat. Doing that half a dozen times was just draining, because it wasn’t involving gameplay, it was just doing chores so that the involving gameplay could happen in 2 hours time.

      Initially, when there’s plenty of threads to pull on, I always felt like it was meaningful to explore and enjoy the locations offered. But as time wore on in the game I just stopped caring and it all ended up so sloggy that even as I wrapped up the final loop I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I was relieved to have it over with. I guess that mimics Colt’s mindset but it is not a feeling I want as a player wanting to enjoy my limited spare time.

    2. ColeusRattus says:

      Man, I binged Deathloop, despite bouncing off of all other Arcane games (except the Dark Messiah of Might and Magic one).

      Concerning the linearity: I initially was hesitant to buy it, because I feared I needed to figure stuff out which might have left me overwhelmed. Turns out, the time loop is a narrative device (and a rationalization for some game tropes) rather than a set up for a puzzle. And I was fine by that. Now I wouldn’t call the story good, but it’s sufficient to set up an action sandbox to fool around in.

      And concerning difficulty: I think most of the complaints stem from players who opted out of the PvP component. If you see the locales as places that need to be playable even while you are being hunted by another player, the less challenging AI is a neccessity not to frustrate.

      I played with PVP enabled, and boy did I enjoy the heck out of it. Getting notified another player invaded instantly ups the ante so much, because it can wreck that day’s progress (which IRL is about a setback of 5-10 Minutes), and playing against someone with a mind over an AI is just so much more interesting. And it allows for creative usage of the powers you have at your disposal.
      I was once pitted against a Julianna player that was quite a ways better than me in shooting circle strafing bunnyhoppers, so when I was down to my last “life”, I turned invisible (augmented with unlimited time as long as I wasn’t moving) right at my corpse, hiding the telling shimmer. And I waited. After a few minutes, the now quite bored and confused invader stood right next to me, having expended most of his ammo. Which made me able to blast him with my shotgun and turn the match around. One of the most awesome gaming experiences I had in recent memory that wasn’t in VR.

      Also, it’s pretty well stacked in favour of the Player trying to break the loop: that one is the host, having less lag, you can respawn twice, whereas Julianna has only one single life. And you can circumvent the fight by sneaking, hacking and running.
      And it could still be an AI Julianna invading, which is a pushover. But you will find that out only once you engage them.

      All in all, I really enjoyed it.

    3. Rariow says:

      Having finished it a few days ago, I’m super impressed, though there is some stuff I wasn’t a big fan of. I do think in a lot of ways Deathloop “fixes” issues inherent to immersive sims (especially the Arkane style). I was initially super annoyed at the lack of saving, but it prevented me from save scumming my way through levels, which, surprise surprise, is a much more fun way to play. Playing past stealth being broken means I got to actually experience the combat system, which is a lot of fun (though I wish you could bring more slabs in – the teleport is basically compulsory, and Nexus is too good to not use if you’re even trying to stealth through, so I basically only ever used those). Also, the game signalling hard that you’re not meant to feel bad for killing enemies and not doing the Dishonored thing of giving you a more boring array of non-lethal options means you’re always playing the game the way you find the most fun, and not what you arbitrarily think is more “good”. It’s a game that made a very conscious attempt to save me (and a lot of people like me) from my own worst habits in immersive sims.

      On the other hand… I do find the linearity of the game’s puzzle to be disappointing. I’m fine with them keeping track of all the information you know and helping you along with building the plan (guiding you to Egor’s listening device, or to the love bunker), but the way the game straight up spells out what you’re meant to do when once you’ve got each piece in place feels incredibly condescending. There’s also not that much to do beyond following the plot, or rather, the stuff beyond following the plot barely ever has good rewards. There’s a tiny amount of unique weapons, one of which is right off the beaten path during the tutorial (I found it before I was even able to keep it by doing what I always do – going places the game tells me not to go just to spite it), and another is being carried by a Visionary. These weapons are great rewards, but everything else just gives you trinkets that by the third hour of the game are worse than what you already have. Almost everything optional doesn’t take long and doesn’t give worthwhile rewards. My final disappointment is the writing. I love the dynamic between Colt and Julianna, and I think Colt is an incredibly fun character, but very little else impressed me. Most of the Visionaries barely get any lines, instead being limited to a few notes or text logs. A lot of these are the promo interviews they give, which usually just depict them as over-the-top caricatures which is fine but leaves the game barren of any actual characters. The closest you get to an actual person is Harriett, and she’s… you know… the way she is. The ending is also disconcertingly fast.

      Still, despite all the criticism, very good game. Should probably play it if you like these sorts of games. I do feel a bit odd paying full price for a 15 hour game, but that’s because I usually play games two to four years after they’re out and decided to treat myself to something current for once.

      1. Olivier FAURE says:

        Which one is Harriet again? The cult leader?

        1. Rariow says:

          That’s the one. She at least gets a few text logs in her room explaining why she is the way she is, which is more than the rest of the visionaries get.

      2. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Just wanted to chime in and say that they got rid of the chaos* system for Death of the Outsider and I enjoyed that immensely, it let me go as quite or as wild as I wanted and if I decided that someone just had to die I had that option without the game chastising me about it.

        *Or as I like to call it “totally not good-evil system”

        1. Shufflecat says:

          The chaos system is actually pretty illusory in the base Dishonored games. You can totally kill when you have to or want to and still get the fully “good” ending. The system can absorb a lot of chaos: as long as you don’t go full Rambo through the whole game, you’re probably still good.

          I basically ignored it, and still got the full good ending in both D1 and D2. There were some end-level targets I killed, some I spared. Some levels I stealthed (but let the fights happen if I failed, rather than reloading), others where I went full chaos (I clearly remember going out of my way to kill every single guard on Dunwall Bridge in D1, once it was revealed what they were knowingly party to, for example). It didn’t matter to the ending, only to the score cards at the end of each level.

          Same is true of the Mass Effect series. You don’t need to worry about Paragon vs. Renegade labeling unless you’re trying to minmax or ‘cheevo hunt.

          I think the mere presence of such a system warps people’s expectations. Has them walking on eggshells in fear of it, then continuing to believe afterward that was necessary because they never experienced the alternative.

          Probably doesn’t help that some other people also don’t see the difference between “killing when necessary or for RP reasons”, and “mechanically motivated murderhoboing”, and so will claim the system is much stricter than it is because they’re legit not noticing just how huge of a Jason Voorhees they’re actually being.

          1. Rariow says:

            The “walking on eggshells” point is exactly my problem. I like to play immersive sims relatively stealthily and I usually take non lethal options whenever available. I won’t usually quickload if one or two guys notice me and force me into a dirty lethal kill, but I will if the entire level’s population is running straight at me. The thing with the chaos sytem is that it turns every non-perfectly executed encounter into me being horrified that that’s going to be the one kill that pushes me over the limit. I think it’s similar to the way people who dislike time limits in games feel: even if it’s super generous the knowledge that there IS a way to fail in that way means I’m constantly worried about it, possibly to an irrational degree. I still think the chaos system is an awful idea if they didn’t want people to avoid all the fun lethal tools the game gives you like the plague. It’s like putting a note in the tutorial saying “You’re playing the game wrong if you do X” and not expecting people to try to avoid doing X.

  13. Truett says:

    In response to Marvin, the Copy X fight is very bad but the entirety of Mega Man Zero had really bad fights and stages. There is a huge spike pit that you can’t see at the beginning of Fairy Leviathan’s stage and the stage with the truck you have to destroy before it gets to the Resistance base is also poorly designed. It’s not Inti Creates’ first game, but it sure feels like it. Even Zero 2 had some of the same issues and it wasn’t until Zero 3 that they moved past death pits in boss fights.

  14. Canthros says:

    And, in regards to Guild Wars 2, I want to say that they’ve been running that game on a (heavily) modified version of the engine that ran Guild Wars 1. They’ve definitely had issues with it being single-threaded and CPU bound, and it would not surprise me if the engine update was related to work involved with fixing/mitigating the threading/CPU bottlenecking.

    It may also indicate that they are either working on a Guild Wars 3 that would be built on the same engine, or just anticipating a long enough lifespan for the game that they don’t want to bump into end of life issues for DX9.

    This comment is 100% speculation, though, and probably worth no more than you’ve paid for it.

    1. Steve C says:

      Guild Wars 2 ran well in solo play. It ran like absolute garbage in large battles. Big sections of the game were focused on those big battles. There was world PvP (which eventually became unplayable) and the big set-piece PvE fights that took over a zone and were the first time a MMO really tried to focus on that. It was a big deal back in the day. Except it was so bad, every big fight was with invisible armies that *could not* render. A major problem.

      The big reasons to play *this* MMO over another competing MMO was the exactly the content that ran like garbage. They needed to fix it years ago. It was still running like garbage after the big technical patch that was supposed to fix everything. That was the final straw why my entire guild of 100 people quit including me.

      Before the big ‘fix,’ invisible characters were represented by formless blob shadows on the ground. After the big ‘fix’ the formless shadows were given default race models. Models without textures or colors or class characteristics. And the number of those displayed were capped. The result was that it added no useful information. Yet those ridiculous partially loaded things obscured all the formless blob shadows. Are there 20 or 200 players? Who knows? The 20 bad renders completely obscures the 200. At least the formless blob shadows gave an idea of numbers and weren’t distracting in their awfulness.

      Such a ridiculous stupid decision. One that the devs demanded patience to implement. Something they should have been able to be implement months earlier due to how obviously low effort it was. Then after it was live, the devs patted themselves on the back of a job well done as the playerbase left. Just thinking about it still makes me angry today.

      So ya. Guild Wars 2 needed a major technical upgrade.

  15. Turtlebear says:

    Looks like I’m playing Devil’s advocate here, but I think the KotOR remake might be a good idea, from a certain point of view. I find when I played the original, as did you during the Spoiler Warning season, that there are quite a few quests and dialogues that are too much obvious light or dark choices.

    I know things like this can work in a simple good v evil setting like Star Wars, or that going too far the other way and having a writer’s insert berating you because “actually all the choices were bad all along” can negatively impact the story. In KotOR there are a few instances where the dialogue is “Feel my dark power!” or “redeem yourself and turn to the light, it’s the only way to inner peace” with no middle ground. Also how in Korriban you learn about how the Sith code honors testing yourself against powerful foes and build power to free yourself from others, and past Revan demonstrates this by fighting the Republic using strategy and sacrifice. Then none of this is actually used in the dark playthrough, instead you bully peasants out of their money after doing quests for them and any time you fight powerful Sith is just because they’re in your way, just like on a light side playthrough anyway.

    Then there’s the matter of the reveal. There’s no way to confront any Jedi about wiping your memory and reprogramming you into having beliefs against your free will. Sure Dantooine got bombed but other Jedi who might have had a hand in it are presumably alive on Courascant but you either get revenge and take over the galaxy or never bring it up ever again to anyone other than Carth and Bastilla.

    I think a remake could maybe allow them to create more natural dialogues and quest outcomes instead of completely remastering the game as it is with a fancy new combat system. Of course, either would be a completely valid way of doing it, I wouldn’t mind a normal remaster. So I’m keeping cautiously optimistic – as long as they don’t ruin Jolee Bindo or make the whole thing based on Taris before, spoiler, it gets blown up.

  16. beleester says:

    Alpha Protocol had a few bosses that went overboard on the cheating. Brayko can make himself immune to any stun/knockdown abilities you had, and then charge in to murder you in melee, which meant that you basically had to spend the fight running in circles to stay away from him. Which felt really silly in a cover-based stealth shooter and could be absolutely brutal if you didn’t invest in gun skills. There’s also Omen Deng, who could turn invisible and run away whenever you pinned him down, but that was less annoying since it just sort of reset the fight instead of completely negating your playstyle.

    Also, I recently played through Ace Combat 7, which naturally has some duels with enemy pilots, and while the fights are a little bit cheaty, it’s not too blatant and mainly serves to let the AI keep up with you. Mihaly’s main cheat is just that he has a lot more health (oh sorry, I mean he can “take hits in non-critical areas”) and a better plane than you, although in his second fight (Battle for Farbanti) he actually has multiple separate health pools – after a certain number of hits in the air, he’ll start weaving through the buildings, after a few more hits Wiseman will join the fight, and then he’ll always survive long enough to shoot down Wiseman. He’s a good enough pilot that you probably won’t notice the rails on your first playthrough, but if you’re really good you might notice he’s taking an awful lot of missiles without dying.

    However, there’s one cheaty boss that’s actually really fun – the duel with the unknown AI drone. It doesn’t use missiles, but it has the ability to move like a goddamn UFO – if you get on its tail it can literally just spin in midair and fly somewhere else. It’s not a super dangerous boss because it only uses guns, and once you understand its movements you can bring it down by “jousting”, but the fact that it’s so alien in its maneuvering makes it a scary enemy and establishes how dangerous the AIs are.

  17. Ninety-Three says:

    For cheaty bosses, I like the final boss of Transistor. When I first ran into it I hated for not being a final exam style of boss, but as I bashed my head against it and managed to set my expectations aside I grew to like it as an interesting encounter in its own right.

    The basic summary is that Transistor is a game where you have a time stop move with a moderate cooldown that lets you queue up a bunch of attacks to fire off at once on the helpless enemies. One common playstyle consists of using time stop to unload a bunch of damage then dodging around the arena until time stop recharges and you can do it again. The final boss’s gimmick is that he also has time stop and if you try to fight him like a normal boss, you will get up in his face then he will use his time stop and splatter you all over the walls. The solution I eventually found was to rely much less on my own time stop and try to keep far away from him, forcing him to use his time stop just to close the distance to me where we would then have a fair, untimestopped fight. It was a satisfying puzzle to figure out and it also taught me how surprisingly powerful the “don’t rely on time stop” strategy was (many of your abilities are disabled while time stop is on cooldown, never using it means you always have them available and I had failed to appreciate how good that was until the cheaty bossfight forced me to). It drove me to do a second run with a completely different playstyle and I loved it.

    1. Lino says:

      Ooohhhh, I remember that boss fight! Really, really liked it! What made it feel fair to me is the fact that the whole game you’ve been operating under rules that don’t apply to any other enemy – not only can you stop time, but you’ve got a bunch of cool powers ON TOP of that.

      So it felt kind of fair that there should be at least one enemy that has those powers, too. Like you, it made me use a lot of powers in real-time, which I had practically never done before, and made me experiment and try to make the most out of the tools I had – a lot of which I had been ignoring throughout the entire game.

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        What made it feel fair to me is the fact that the whole game you’ve been operating under rules that don’t apply to any other enemy – not only can you stop time, but you’ve got a bunch of cool powers ON TOP of that.

        There’s something like this late in Dishonored, also. Daud has powers from the same magical source you do, so he can avoid a lot of your tricks (including things that work on the game’s final boss, even)

        1. Zekiel says:

          The bit where you use Time Stop expecting to stab him to death easily is hilarious!

  18. tmtvl says:

    When I heard that the developers of the KOTOR remake had hired a writer, I thought that it was because they were going to do the Beamdog thing, where they may add a new party member and maybe an additional quest chain. I may be wrong and they may rewrite the entire thing, we’ll see when it’s out.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      They’ve hired at least five writers, and they’re bringing in a bunch of voice actors. We can’t know for certain of course, but I’d bet good money on major rewrites.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        There’ll definitely be rewrites as I’m sure the KOTOR remake is going to be set in the canon continuity and while we still don’t actually know much about the Old Republic era there, I at least expect crossguard lightsabers to be present and Tarre Vizla, the first and only Mandalorian Jedi, to either appear or get mentioned at some point.

        1. John says:

          I do not get Mandalorians. I do not get the love for Mandalorians. I get The Mandalorian, sort of, but Din Djarin’s little cult is the the least compelling part of that show. I must have been consuming the wrong spin-offs all these years. People keep telling me that Mandalorians are cool bad-asses but I never see Mandalorians being cool bad-asses. Honestly, I don’t think I want to at this point. I’d be perfectly content if Disney just excised Mandalorians from the setting and never mentioned them again.

          1. Fizban says:

            People keep telling me that Mandalorians are cool bad-asses

            Well yeah, because they believe in the Cult of the Badass. Don’t you? You should believe in the things that they believe in. You see, Mandalorians are badass, you can tell because everyone knows they’re badass, and badasses are cool and you should like them and want to be one and they belong in everything. It’s really very simple.

          2. MerryWeathers says:

            I think the Mandalorians are a decent enough faction that provides a good alternative to the Jedi and the Sith, they can easily fulfill the roles of being protagonists and antagonists, are tied to the three major aspects of SW that Shamus listed before (war because their culture revolves around battle, the criminal underworld because many of them tend to work as bounty hunters, and the Force because they view it with superstition and also tend to either be enemies or allies of the Jedi).

            Weakest aspect for The Mandalorian to me was ironically Din and Grogu’s relationship which still felt underdeveloped, my biggest problem with the season two finale wasn’t Luke’s cameo but rather Grogu’s (though obviously temporary) departure feeling unearned because he had been sidelined for most of the season.

      2. Thomas says:

        I’m reckoning this is going to be closer to FfVII Remake than a traditional remaster.

  19. John says:

    Not sure how I feel about the Knights of the Old Republic remake. I really like the game, but, having played it a million, billion times, I am well aware of its faults. A lot of the dialogue is kinda bad. As much as I dislike some things about the sequel, I will readily admit that it has much, much better dialogue. So if the new studio has hired a whole bunch of writers, then I guess that’s fine with me. Knights of the Old Republic could use another dialogue pass or three. They’ll probably have to change the combat if they want to sell, too. I don’t mind the D20, turn-based, but trying to look real-time thing, but a lot of people seem to hate it and it can produce some silly-looking results. Melee looks okay, but the way that people keep missing all those point-blank blaster shots is pretty awkward.

    It would be one thing if Disney were pulling a Lucas and trying to replace the original game with the new version, but the original game is still out there and as far as I can tell that’s not going to change. You can get Knights of the Old Republic from GOG, from Steam, and from, I believe, the various mobile app stores. And it runs just fine, too. I didn’t have any problems worth mentioning when I played it earlier this year. It even looks decent-ish. You’d never confuse it for a contemporary game and it won’t run in widescreen but it will run at 1600×1200 (except for the cutscenes) if high resolution is your thing. (There are mods for widescreen and upscaled cutscenes, though I can’t personally speak to their quality.) So even if the remake makes a bunch of bad creative choices–or even if it just makes a bunch of creative choices that I don’t like–it’s not as though it’d be the version of Knights of the Old Republic that I’m stuck with from now on or the only version of the game available to new players.

    So I guess I’m not too worked up about the remake. If the reviews are good, I might check it out. If they aren’t, then, oh well, too bad. I’ll just have to be content with the original. Even if the original does vanish from stores for some reason, I’ve got the GOG offline installer on my backup drive and, failing that, my original disks. I’m good.

    1. CSilvestri says:

      You can get it on mobile; I actually first played KotOR 1 on my iPad. It works fairly well; sometimes the controls aren’t great, but since nothing in the game really requires you be fast it’s okay.

      Personally, the main thing I’m hoping for specifically out of this is restoring some content they weren’t originally allowed to put in (like with Juhani). Given how the overall environment has shifted since KotOR first came out, I think that’s fairly likely.

  20. MerryWeathers says:

    Me: Yikes! What happened to minimum recovery time and no pain?

    Fun fact: If your doctor assures that there isn’t going to be any pain then there absolutely will be.

    1. Orillion says:

      “a couple weeks” means “five years and counting”

  21. Smosh says:

    Ah yes, surgery, where you replace one really big problem by a list of smaller problems. Not that you can reasonably opt out of it most times. When in doubt, more painkillers.

    1. Melfina the Blue says:

      Except when the painkillers are what’s causing the pain. Happened to me after I had my gallbladder out, every time the painkillers wore off I was in AGONY (worst pain of my life). Ended up back in the ER, got lectured by my surgeon about not calling him first (thought I was dying, so it didn’t occur to me). Thankfully I wasn’t leaking internally (given my pain level and interesting anatomy that was the first thought), it was the percoset! Seriously, after a day or so of hell as my body got over it, I was fine(ish). My digestive system DOES NOT like that stuff, and it had basically stopped in revolt.

      But I am weird, so I wouldn’t worry about it unless you have a bunch of internal scarring (found out about that later). Just listen when they tell you about making sure you poop, and take the fiber and poop meds. Opiates can bind you up amazingly well (I’ve used them to treat the other problem quite successfully).

      Anyway, Shamus, glad to hear you’re on the road to recovery, I hope you continue to improve!

  22. evileeyore says:

    “In any case, I really am on the mend now, and it looks like the medical community has run out of surprises for me.”

    Ooph, you just love throwing down the gauntlet don’t you Shamus? I figured you’d have learned not to tempt the gods by now old man, but maybe that’s the plan? Get the gods so involved in making your life “interesting” that they don’t let ya die?

  23. Moridin says:

    Re: HP
    The general opinion seems to be that HP computer are still garbage, except for their high-end business laptops.

    Re: DX11
    One of the main selling points of DX12 and Vulcan was that they reduce CPU overhead (by allowing you to do the same thing with fewer drawcalls, or something along those lines?), so I would assume that similar improvements (albeit less noteworthy at the time) happened between DX9 and DX11.

  24. ColeusRattus says:

    Shamus, have you ever been in contact with the German language?
    Because in German, “Rezept” means both “recipe” and “prescription”. So it’s a common error to call the latter the former for germanophones like myself.

  25. Syal says:

    For cheating bosses: Sans from Undertale was incredible. Long ago I spent time counting gimmicks that were exclusive to the Sans fight; think I got up to 9 or so before quitting. Hell of an ending.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      This is why you should always warn your friends to do a genocide run last.

    2. Drathnoxis says:

      Yes, Sans breaks about every rule of combat you’d learned up until then, and it’s fantastic!

  26. The Nick says:

    Fiverr Surgery?

    No wonder Shamus hasn’t been around for a while.

  27. Steve C says:

    In regards to cheating boss fights, I keep thinking of this:

    The true cheat is in the title.

  28. Zekiel says:

    Welcome back Shamus. Hope your recovery is ok.

  29. Philadelphus says:

    I think I was the one who suggested Filament, glad to hear Paul’s enjoying it so far! Also I loved Sim Tower as a kid, was vaguely aware of Project Highrise, but didn’t know it was by the same people behind Filament so I may have to check it out.

    Also, that underwater section in KotOR *shudder*. Not because it’s a slowly-paced section that feels like it takes forever, but because I was playing on my friend’s lent disks sometime in the early 20-teens on Windows 7, and for whatever reason the game crashed Every. Few. Minutes for me. Except in the underwater section, where, I kid you not, it crashed probably about every 30 seconds on average (sometimes much faster). I got through that section* with even more liberal spam of the quicksave button than in the rest of the game, but I am scarred for life over it.

    *And the entire game, eventually.

  30. Steve C says:

    Hey Paul, you could create a Fiverr gig to pull API info to automatically create new Fiverr accounts and gigs.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Only to have my account taken down for “violation of community guidelines”? Yeah, I suppose so. Maybe after I’ve finished making the Detlef series.

  31. Steve C says:

    Another game with multiple full graphics overhauls and 2 (or 3) directX upgrades is Warframe. It might even of had 4. It’s long in the tooth. Hell, the UI originally was Flash.

  32. evilmrhenry says:

    Regarding DirectX upgrades, I suspect newer DirectX versions might also be easier to develop for, and/or easier to hire people who understand it?

    Found a Reddit thread discussing the Guild Wars 2 changes.
    Looks like the reason they didn’t target DirectX 12 is because DirectX 11 is the latest version that doesn’t require a massive pipeline rewrite.

    On the other hand, there’s a DX9 to DX12 wrapper for Guild Wars 2 written by a fan, so….

    1. Duoae says:

      I was thinking of writing a reply to this part of the podcast but I’ve been out of the loop so didn’t get around to it and in the meantime, everyone here has put what I was going to say, except one thing:

      – ArenaNet probably has a lot of data on the hardware/OS configurations of their customers. Given the statement they made on the blog, it seems clear to me that they have a good proportion of users who are still on Windows Vista and Windows 7, perhaps using hardware that is not DX12 compatible (GTX 600 series and HD 7000 series in 2012).

      Added to this, if they went and used one of the earlier “levels” of DX11, then they’re not (as far as I understand it) having to do too much work (*DX9 encapsulation, for example) but they would be laying the groundwork for future improvements, (such as when the proportion of their userbase remaining on outdated OSes and hardware is low enough).

      You can see this general overview on the wikipedia article for Direct3D 11:

      Direct3D 11 also introduced “10level9”, a subset of the Direct3D 10 API with three feature levels encapsulating various Direct3D 9 cards with WDDM drivers, and Direct3D 11.1 re-introduced a few optional features for all levels,[133] which were expanded in Direct3D 11.2 and later versions.

      This approach allows developers to unify the rendering pipeline and use a single version of the API on both newer and older hardware, taking advantage of performance and usability improvements in the newer runtime.

      1. Duoae says:

        Moving to DX12 would be significantly more work and potentially cut off a bunch of their customers AND require supporting two concurrent builds of the game. DX 11 allows them to unify everything.

        And the part I was referring to from Guild Wars 2’s blogpost:

        We chose to use DirectX11 instead of DirectX12 or Vulkan because we found that switching to BGFX’s DirectX11 implementation provided enough of a performance boost that the graphics backend was no longer ever a limiting factor for client performance. DirectX11 is very stable and has already been used by thousands of games for nearly a decade at this point. It allows us to provide support back to Windows Vista, while Vulkan support starts at Windows 7 and DirectX12 support starts at Windows 10. As far as graphics features are concerned, jumping from DirectX9 to DirectX11 gives us plenty of options for adding interesting features to the engine in years to come. Supporting more than one of these backends would balloon QA work for little tangible benefits.

        The current DirectX9 renderer hasn’t been altered in any significant way. One of the philosophies I had as I built this was to have the DirectX11 renderer look the same as DirectX9.

  33. Ninety-Three says:

    This is a test comment I am making on an old post, disregard me.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      And this is a test reply, disregard it too.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      This is another test reply.

    3. Duoae says:

      Too late, i already noticed you!

      *Psst* what are we doing back here anyway?

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