Diecast #361: Make New Stuff

By Shamus Posted Monday Nov 8, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 97 comments

I’m really sorry, but I failed to filibuster Paul this week. I unforgivably allowed him several minutes of talking where he was able to say smart and interesting things. See the end of this post for the breakdown.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

00:00 2-Factor Authentication

On one hand, I understand: Some people use the same username & password for everything, so if their account gets compromised then so does their email. These people generate tons of support headaches when they get hacked. These people create cascading security problems that can threaten the entire platform.

On the other hand, Google bears quite a bit of guilt in this mess. It’s pretty hard to have your email login be different from your YouTube login when they are, by design, the same account. Gmail, YouTube, Adsense, FitBit, Google Earth, Stadia, Google Maps, and Chrome profiles are all the same thing.

At the very least, Gmail should have been isolated from the others in a way that encouraged the user to have two distinct logins: One for email, and one for “everything else”. In Gmail your login has an @ symbol, and Google could have forbidden the @ and period in usernames for the “everything else” login. This would mean that one stolen set of credentials wouldn’t automatically escalate to identity theft, and email could be used for account recovery.

Barring that, how about you let us use an alternate non-gmail address for 2FA? Because my phone number is for my friends, and I’m not friends with giant disorganized apathetic corporations.

12:12 Meta Trubs

Here is the video I mentioned in this segment: Happy Brandwashing, Facebook!

20:50 Playing Hitman 2 Wrong But SO Right

I’m nowhere near the skill and tenacity of Big Mooney, but I’m having fun ruining 47’s reputation for discretion and precision. But if you want to see a pro do it, then here is Big Mooney trying to clear the absurdly dense population of the Miami map:

Link (YouTube)

23:42 Satisfactory Update 5

So did they fix any of my gripes with the game, including the trivial-to-fix usability problem that is now 3 years old? Paul has the details.

30:27 Mailbag: CPU or GPU?

Dear Diecast,

if you had to choose one, would you rather have a PC with:
A: a great CPU but terrible GPU, or:
B: a terrible CPU but great GPU?


35:19 Mailbag: Challenge Modes

Your Excellency, Podcast for Life, Grognard Commander Al Hadji Doctor Diecast, VC, DSO, MC, FBI, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the Hosting Services in Cyberspace in General and 1And1 in Particular,

What’s your favorite challenge mode in a game, either self-imposed or as a mutator you can toggle on? More broadly, what do you look for in a challenge mode and what drives you to seek them out?

I mostly look for challenge modes when I love a game and want to play more of it, but I’ve already beaten the main campaign and replaying regular mode would be too much of a dull retread. My favorite ever challenge mode was trying a “No ranged plants” run of Plants Vs Zombies. I loved it but the game was very easy so to spice things up I picked an insane challenge analogous to “beat this FPS without guns, knife and grenades only”. It turned out to be a difficult but doable challenge that forced me to invent all kinds of weird strategies and a bunch of what I learned ended up being transferable to improve my play outside of the stupid challenge mode.


42:09 Mailbag: Interesting Developers

Dear Diecast,

with Bioware, Blizzard, and Obsidian releasing very underwhelming fare lately, I was wondering if there were any new developers you guys are keeping an eye on?

For example, I am keeping an eye on ConcernedApe, who is working on Haunted Chocolatier now that he is mostly done with Stardew Valley.



49:25 Mailbag: Babylon 5 Reboot

dear diecast,

about a month ago, a reboot of babylon 5 was announced

the original ran along side star trek ds9

i was a fan of the series in my last years of high school into university, and I even bought the dvd sets

did you watch b5, and would you watch the reboot?

also, when a property has a fandom, is it possible to reboot the property while respecting the fandom?



The Breakdown

Here is (roughly) the waveform for this episode:

The above image is 1024 pixels wide. This Diecast is 70 minutes long. So a minute of show equals about 14 horizontal pixels. Blue pixels are Paul talking, and I’m red.


From The Archives:

97 thoughts on “Diecast #361: Make New Stuff

  1. Daimbert says:

    Barring that, how about you let us use an alternate non-gmail address for 2FA? Because my phone number is for my friends, and I’m not friends with giant disorganized apathetic corporations.

    I don’t have a cell phone that I could reasonably use for 2FA, but I DO have multiple non-gmail addresses that I could use. If they want me to go to 2FA, they’re going to have to provide something like that.

    i was a fan of the series in my last years of high school into university, and I even bought the dvd sets

    I have you beat. I have TWO sets [grin].

    This might have been brought up in the podcast, but my worry about rebooting Babylon 5 instead of continuing it is that Babylon 5 had a specific story that it was based on, that had carefully plotted arcs. While I’m sure that JMS can see things he would have done differently, how is he going to handle that? If he simply redoes the original arcs, then the fans of the original show — who are going to be the ones most likely to jump on the new show — will know what’s going to happen and will be disappointed, and if he tries to fool them are likely to get more annoyed at what might seem like changes for the sake of changing something. But if he goes with a radically different set of arcs and plots, then there seems little reason for it to be a reboot rather than a continuation. You can do a reboot like that with, say, something like Angel or Buffy the Vampire Slayer or even Star Trek because the main premise of the show was decoupled from the specific arcs, and so you can start from the same starting point and do hugely different things in the season arcs. But B5’s premise, it seems to me, is too tightly coupled to the arcs, and so rebooting it will be hugely problematic.

  2. bobbert says:

    I remember when 2-factor authentication meant a RSA(?) token on your key-ring. They weren’t so bad, but I guess selling your telephone number to scammers is cheaper.

    1. ShasUi says:

      Bit trickier for physical keys these days, as a lot is done on mobile, which requires at minimum a variety of adapters.
      On the other hand, phone numbers are particularly valuable: usually 1 per person; direct contact to someone on something they’re less likely to ignore (though this is changing as the percentage of actual call to spam drops), relatively ineffective spam filtering/blocking; there’s a large pre-existing market that is perfectly happy with “annonymized” lists of numbers, as they only care if it’s live, given their untargeted strategy (if they don’t own a car & therefore immediately realize this warranty thing is bubkis, no worries, we have another thousand chances to get through in the next hour)
      So, high return on “low-risk” (anonymized) data that everyone is accustomed to freely handing out anyway, and we can get it “to help improve our security”? Talk about low-hanging fruit.

  3. parkenf says:

    Two things about that Meta job story: firstly it’s good to hear that the job was actually there. My experience with a lot of recruitment firms is that they place a vague buzzwordy job with low but not negligible requirements and a decent but not excessive salary. You then click through, create an account and are shown a bunch of jobs “matching your profile”. The “job” you clicked through is nowhere to be found. My son had a similar experience in applying for summer jobs, the form is there at his level too and the effect is the same.

    The other thing is that: enticing your interest with an item tailored for you and then hiding that in favour of more “selective” (profitable) items is surely the Facebook, sorry, Meta, mode of operation?

  4. Dreadjaws says:

    Places like Amazon or Steam allow the use of an app for 2FA. The fact that Google isn’t doing it absolutely means that they don’t want to. And yes, I also had the “A problem has occurred. Try again later” issue when trying to send the code to my phone, which probably wouldn’t have happened if they had let me use an app.

    But you know what’s even funnier? When I finally got them to send the text, it turns out that you don’t have to write the entire code they send you, just the number. They send you something like “G-123456” and you only have to type “123456”, or else it doesn’t work. Why? Why the hell do this? Why complicate such a simple thing? Just send the goddamn number alone, like literally everyone else does. I swear to God, they’re trying to get people to hate them at this point.

    1. beleester says:

      Google lets you use an app for 2FA. They even built their own app (Google Authenticator) which a bunch of other sites use.

      1. ContribuTor says:

        This. Google Authenticator has been a thing for quite awhile. It works fine (as well as other authenticator apps, anyways).

        One nice thing is that (like Apple’s version) it allows you to use other non-phone devices you own for 2FA. So, if I lose my phone, I can unlock my account via my Fire tablet, and vice versa.

      2. Rick says:

        Exactly this… I hate installing apps for everything but appreciate that the authenticator is supposed to work with multiple services instead of needing different apps.

        Then my accounting software enforced 2FA via an app (no option for phone or email). But hey, it says it can use Google Authenticator instead of their own app. Except it won’t accept any codes from Google Authenticator.

        I consider myself reasonably security conscious, but I hate that 2FA is often required and then only has horrible options.

      3. Dreadjaws says:

        Well, this is very irritating. I spent the whole day yesterday trying to get Google to even show me other possibilities for 2FA other than phone and nothing. Today I check back and there it is, Google Authenticator. I swear to God, they’re doing this just to mock me.

      4. bubba0077 says:

        Plus, it works even when you don’t have a cell signal. I’ve been using Google Authenticator for eight years, and I use it for Google, GitHub, Reddit, Amazon, Slack, and a dozen other places. I get annoyed when something only offers SMS instead of authenticator capability.

    2. methermeneus says:

      Google does allow the use of an authenticator app for 2fa, but iirc it’s a bit hidden in the bowels of the settings. 2fa is actually a good security measure: A weak password (“something you know”) and a phone# or authenticator app on your phone (“something you have”) is more secure than a strong password on its own. That said, trying to force you to use SMS or calls so they can get your phone number is pretty obvious data harvesting… Especially when the most universally-accepted authenticator app is Google’s.

  5. Dreadjaws says:

    As for developers I’m interested in, there’s Tom Francis (Suspicious Developments), who has made two games I love (Gunpoint and Heat Signature) and it’s currently working on another one that looks really up my alley and Image & Form Games, creators of the SteamWorld Franchise, who have also yet to release a game I haven’t loved.

    Both these developers have done great work in entirely different genres for every game they publish, so I’m always hyped for their next announcement, and I buy their games at launch. I have yet to regret it.

    1. John says:

      The only Image & Form game I’ve played is Steamworld Heist, which is indeed very loveable. Steamworld Quest and the Steamworld Dig games aren’t in genres that interest me, but if they’re made with the same spirit as Heist then I’m sure that they’re loveable too.

      The only developer I follow is Supergiant Games, makers of Bastion, Transistor, Pyre, and most recently Hades. I don’t buy every game they make, but I do get excited every time they release something new. Their games are always worth checking out for the art and the music alone. If Shamus is right about the way that indie developers operate, then Supergiant must be the exception that proves the rule, as they’ve stuck together for four games now.

  6. bobbert says:

    I never played ME2. I have the disk upstairs, but I got burnt out by 1 trying to get all of the achievements.

    I have heard from friends that the best prats of ME2 were flirting with Mission and the Gilbert-and-Sullivan-guy.

    1. John says:

      Don’t flirt with Mission. First, she’s a kid. Second, she’s in a completely different Bioware game.

      The Gilbert & Sullivan guy is fair game.

      1. Syal says:

        But if you don’t flirt with Mission you won’t get Mission Updates.

      2. bobbert says:

        It has been a while, but I am pretty sure Mission and Carth were in both Mass Effect and the Star Wars game.

        1. John says:

          Hey, if you’ve found another character that sounds like Mission to flirt with, I won’t judge you. Much.

          1. Daimbert says:

            Vette in The Old Republic uses Mission’s voice actress, and is an explicit love interest for the Sith Warrior. Thus, she has explicit [Flirt] options.

        2. Shufflecat says:

          Not… really?

          I mean, there’s teammates who fulfill a very broadly similar role. Bioware squad RPGs do have an underlying formula. But the characters aren’t similar enough to make any solid assertions.

          Like, if you squint, the Carth role is maybe fulfilled by Kaiden, and you could make arguments for both Tali and Liara being Mission analogues in different ways, but in all cases you have to stretch your definitions almost to the point of meaninglessness. At that level of stretch, I feel like you could even make a strong case for Jack being Mission.

          In fact I’d argue that the most clearly Mission-like character in the Mass Effect franchise is PeeBee, and she’s 4 games in.

          Wrex is absolutely Canderous, though.

          1. John says:

            I believe that what he’s trying to say is that Carth and Kaidan have the same voice actor.

            1. Shufflecat says:

              Ah. I don’t tend to notice specific voice actors outside of the ones with super distinctive voices, so that didn’t occur to me.

              Which may be a silly thing for even me to say, as I’ve spent literally the last decade going “that’s Garrus!” every time I hear that actor in another role.

      3. ContribuTor says:

        Don’t flirt with Mission. First, she’s a kid.

        It would be Mission commission of a felony.

    2. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      ME2 is fantastic. The main story is indeed pretty bad, but it’s also 30% of the game, and everything is else is top notch. Not wanting to play ME2 because of Cerberus is like not wanting to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark because Indiana Jones doesn’t impact the plot, that’s severely missing what’s good about it.

  7. Henson says:

    I used to replay the Hotel mission from the first Hitman over and over and over again, in increasingly unsubtle ways. I particularly liked sneaking in, being quiet, getting the shotgun in the flower box, creeping into the target’s room, and then blasting him away and any guards/police who came to investigate. It was great buildup to the eventual carnage.

    1. Lino says:

      I loved that mission! That game is still my favourite in the whole franchise.

    2. Utzel says:

      When I played it for the first time, with a friend, we had just unlocked something called “Franchi” and bought that to try whatever that was without checking. We casually walked to the entrance, but the guards there started screaming “He’s packing!” and it took a few more confused seconds for us to even notice the shotgun in 47s hand :D
      The level always was a favorite of mine, but I didn’t really like the new version in Contracts somehow.

  8. Tizzy says:

    I hate this phone number shit, because I strongly suspect that the main reason why Google is asking for those is that a phone number is a much more powerful identifier of an individual than an email address. It’s not unusual for people to have several email addresses, but most people keep to a single cell number and avoid changing it even when switching carriers. And if Google ties 2FA to it, you can’t give them a phony (ha!) number. Never mind that SMS as a 2FA is demonstrably worse than using an app or a token because it’s vulnerable to sim swap attacks.

    I don’t know what the situation is in the rest of the world, but in the US I am shocked to see how data brokers legally buy and sell your data to anyone with no specific regulatory oversight that I know of. In that framework, the ability to tie a reliable unique identifier to the data you’re trying to sell makes it infinitely more valuable.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      Ironically, I’m the opposite: I have a single Gmail address* that I got in my teens and plan to keep until I die, whereas I’ve already had three phone numbers due to moving to and from Australia. So to me, an email address is the unchangeable bedrock while phone numbers come and go (though I also hope to be done moving, and hold onto this one).

      * Well, I suppose I’ve also had a few work email addresses from various jobs, but I use those for work stuff pretty much exclusively.

  9. tmtvl says:

    What I find weird is that there’s this thing where if I want to watch a YouTube video that has content that is deemed “for mature audiences” (such as a discussion of some of the darker passages of the 1990s) it will ask me to scan my ID.

    I can’t imagine why anyone would willingly agree to do that.

    1. Tizzy says:

      That reminds me of porn sites in the 1990’s that would ask for a credit card number (promising not to charge the card) as “proof of age”, ostensibly because having a valid card number somehow proved you were an adult. Of course.

      1. Joshua says:

        I seem to recall Leisure Suit Larry (or maybe a similar game, it’s been a few decades) asking questions about history (such as Nixon) that it thinks people younger than 18 wouldn’t know.

        1. Shamus says:

          You are correct that it was LSL. In my case, the questions were AMAZINGLY accurate, falling perfectly into my historical blind spot. Nixon, NORML, and the Chicago Seven were all stuff that happened right around the time I was born. If the questions aimed a decade later, I’d know the answer from personal experience. If they aimed a decade sooner, I’d remember it from history class.

          Which suggests that if you wanted to make a similar test for today’s 16 year olds, you’d want to focus on the events from ~1995 to ~2004. Stuff like The Jeff Foxworthy Show, the launch of Windows 95, the Y2K scare, the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, the Dot-com bubble, Columbine, the chaos in Miami-Dade county and all the hanging chads from the 2000 election, Shuttle Columbia, etc.

          But I imagine such a test would be pointless in a world with internet-enabled smartphones. The trick in 1988 was that there was no easy way to figure out who the Chicago Seven were without walking away from the videogame to ask an adult, which was the entire point of the test.

  10. Geebs says:

    Looking at the audio waveform: you may not have talked more than Paul, but you sure did talk louder.

  11. John says:

    Warning: wall of text.

    Babylon 5 is not all it’s cracked up to be. There, I said it. I see why people love it. I really do. I even love parts of it myself. But it’s a very uneven show in a lot of ways. Some of the acting is exceptional. A lot of it isn’t. The writing is all over the place, which is odd given that virtually all of it is the work of a single man. Or maybe it’s not so odd. That man was also the showrunner. He must have been fantastically busy. Most shows have whole teams of writers. JMS–I can’t remember how to spell his last name, so his initials are going to have to suffice–must have been burning the candle at both ends and at several points along the middle both writing his entire low-rated, low-budget, serialized-in-an-era-before-that-was-really-a-thing syndicated television show and also struggling to produce it and keep it on the air. It’s amazing that the show is as good as it is. I sometimes think that the story of Babylon 5 is much more interesting than the story in Bablyon 5, if you see what I mean.

    Like Shamus, I watched Babylon 5 only intermittently. I kept up with it enough to follow the broad plot but I doubt I ever saw more than a quarter of the episodes in any given season. Years later, when I had a Netflix subscription, I tried to fix that. My wife and I barely finished the first episode. I might have persisted if I had been willing to watch the show alone, but my wife just couldn’t take it. The visual effects were crude. The soundtrack was crude and also awful. I don’t know whether it was the writing or the acting that made the passionate, episode-closing speech laughable, but I’m willing to believe that it was both. I returned the disk to Netflix with great regret. I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that I dislike the show. I don’t. I would not have watched it as much as I did during its first run if I disliked it. It’s just a show that in a lot of ways and for a lot of mostly understandable reasons never lived up to its potential. The fact that it was the scrappy underdog of 90s science fiction television shouldn’t blind us to its faults.

    As for that other science fiction show that starts with B, I couldn’t get into it. The miniseries was okay, but the regular series irritated me from the very first “The Cylons have a plan” title card. I know enough about television production to know that the Cylons did not have a plan. How could they, when the writers didn’t? Babylon 5 is an anomaly and a miracle in that it was conceived with a five-year arc and then mostly executed according to that arc. As a general rule, it is folly to plan much beyond the first year of a television show. Most new shows are not renewed for a second season. Statistically speaking, the show will not be on the air a year from now, let alone five. Even if the show beats the odds, the writers and producers can’t know what their budget will be or which actors will still be available a few years down the road. The more specific the writers’ plan is, the less likely they will be able to execute it.

    I suppose I could have forgiven Battlestar Galactcia for a minor bit of arguably unintentional falsehood during the opening credits, but then I found that I didn’t enjoy the tone of the first few episodes. It’s perfectly plausible that things should be tense and awful on a bunch of refugee spaceships in the immediate aftermath of the robot apocalypse, but tense and awful simply isn’t my idea of a good time. I can take that kind of thing in a book, or even a movie, but it’s just too much when it’s a permanent, on-going thing in the form of a multi-season television show.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I rewatch Babylon 5 about once a year (usually around Christmas and yes, it’s on my schedule after finishing “The Addams Family” and then watching “The World at War”) and actually like the first season the best (mostly because I like Sinclair a lot more than Sheridan). That being said, I can see how the acting and even dialogue can be uneven in it (I always cringe at the passionate romantic line of “Don’t touch me unless you mean it!”). Still, the series as a whole, through season 4, is actually really good even if parts of it can be clunky. The G’Kar and Londo arcs in particular, and as Chuck Sonnenberg notes Garibaldi really manages to pull off JMS’ humour. So, it’s not a complete and perfect work of art, and I’m sure that JMS would agree with that (hence the reboot), but overall and compared to its competitors it is a great achievement and, in my opinion, is a higher quality show than most.

      On Battlestar Galactica, I watched the miniseries and then the first couple of episodes but didn’t care for it, especially since I was a fan of the original and was annoyed that all the characters were either incompetent or evil or both and so there were no real heroes. Then I played the Battlestar Galactica board game for a while and got a connection to the characters, and then bought the DVDs and watched the entire series, and while I still liked the original better I didn’t hate it this time. But, yes, the whole plan thing was problematic not because the writers didn’t have one, but that by PROMISING one they wrote a check that they couldn’t cash, which ruined the last season for many people. Not me, though, since my expectations were low anyway.

      1. John says:

        G’Kar and Londo are my favorite Babylon 5 characters and their actors are some of the few on the show with the acting chops to really sell JMS’s speeches effectively. I thought Sheridan was a marked improvement over Sinclair, whose pronunciation of “Marilyn Monroe” haunts me to this day. None of which is to say that I am a big Sheridan fan, mind you.

        If I push back on the show a little harder than I need to it’s because a close friend of mine back during the original run was a hardcore Babylon 5 evangelist. I may be overcompensating for all the years years I kept my mouth shut so as not to alienate a friend over something as inconsequential as a TV show.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I think that Michael O’Hare did a decent job playing the Sinclair character (especially given his known mental health issues) and like the Sinclair character better than the Sheridan character for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that he was a lot smarter and a lot less of a goofball than Sheridan.

    2. Chad+Miller says:

      Battlestar Galactica ended all pretension of having any idea where the show was going by the end of the series. I liked it at first but the following spoiler should be enough to drive home how much of a series of asspulls the show degenerated into:

      Several characters are randomly revealed to be Cylons. This reveal is tied to them all having the song “All Along the Watchtower” embedded in their programming somehow. Then a season later the series ends with the revelation that the last few remaining characters landed on Earth and effectively seeded humanity…leaving entirely unaddressed the implication that a Bob Dylan song predates Earth in this universe.

      Re: the thing about shows blatantly pandering to their own fan reactions while making the show, I distinctly remember Heroes literally doing that. Probably the worst effect of this tendency was the way Zachary Quinto helped kill the show by being too good at his job; they really should have killed Sylar as originally planned but instead it became an increasingly desperate series of attempts to create some compelling new plot around him. I think I gave up sometime in Season 3.

      1. John says:

        The first season of Heroes was, if not good, then at least decent. I think I quit sometime during the second season, which, unlike the first, had no hook and no idea what it wanted to do with itself. Sylar’s continued but narratively unnecessary presence didn’t help things any.

        1. Fizban says:

          I watched. . . all of it? Or all but the last season? Way more than most people anyway, on sheer stubbornness. And it was indeed terrible. Ridiculous inane motivations, powers working then not working then working again with no rhyme or reason, etc.

          Still (SPOILER, if anyone cares), having the time traveler accidentally go back to the fuedal era and “steal” a regenerator’s “girl”, causing the man-child to spend centuries taking power and building a secret organization in order to get revenge, was pretty effective. For probably what amounted to a couple episodes in between all the rest. A simple time travel creates its own problem using one of the cheapest and easiest villanous motivators. But even so, it happens because Hiro’s time travel only does what the writers randomly let it do- which itself could be used as an “is this power even worth having?” question, but I don’t think it ever is.

        2. Chad+Miller says:

          The second season suffered the dual problem of aforementioned fan pandering (Sylar was originally supposed to die at the end of S1) and the Writers’ Strike which forced some cut corners. I think I gave it about halfway through Season 3 before deciding it wasn’t going to recover to my satisfaction.

      2. BlueHorus says:

        Oh, the ending gets worse than that on Battlestar Galactica. Don’t forget that:

        The character who died and then mysteriously came back became the subject of speculation: is she an angel? Is she really dead? Well, as an answer, the show has her disappear partway during a conversation when someone turns their back. Then it’s never raised again.
        meanwhile, the cast decided that – now they’ve made peace with the robots that were trying to kill them – they’re going to destroy all their advanced technology and go back to the Dark Ages now they’ve reached Earth, becasue reasons.
        After that, the manipulative, cowardly scientist who helped kill millions of people by giving crucial security codes to a cyclon infiltrator – thus allowing them to lauch the surprise attack that started the show – (all so he could sleep with her) survives the whole show, having made several ever-worse decisions and constantly getting rewarded for them.
        The final scene of the show is him and his imaginary friend (the cylon who tricked him) somehow still alive in modern times, talking in portentious tones about the dangers of technology and immorality.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Actually it’s his imaginary friend and HER imaginary friend doing that. She had an “angel” him doing that in the same way as he had an “angel” her doing that.

    3. ContribuTor says:

      Watch The Expanse. It’s better. I have spoken.

    4. Shufflecat says:

      I missed B5 during its original run, and like you only came to it decades later via Netflix DVDs, after hearing on off for years how great it allegedly was.

      Unlike you, I enjoyed it enough to watch all the way through. It’s very definitely a mixed bag though. I don’t care about the special effects, but you need to be able to stomach A LOT of high 90’s aesthetic in the art style, and both the sets and the costumes tend to look very cheap compared to other shows of the day (like DS9). I actually blame the DP for a lot of that cheap look, rather than the actual sets and costumes. If you’ve ever seen the Star Trek stuff in person, it’s no better, but the way it’s lit and shot makes a HUGE difference, and B5 often looked like they inherited their DP from a daytime soap.

      And of course, the dialog was often unnatural, and the acting quality VERY uneven from one character to the next did that no favors (Dr. Franklin is probably the low point among the main cast IMO). In the overall writing and pacing of the show, you can really tell that they were still trying to figure out how to balance long form storytelling with self-contained episode story telling, but that’s forgivable considering it was new territory at the time.

      The score is an early midi monstrosity. It parallels the early CG badness of the effects exactly, but it bugs me way more than the effects do (part of that is the ship designs underneath the bad CG are still good, but the tunes under the bad midi are bombastically mediocre).

      All that said, it’s still got some very cool characters and stories in here that made it more than worthwhile for me. G’Kar, Londo, Ivanova, and Garibaldi are standouts. Vir and Lannir too, (Vir more so than Lannir, but still). It has some great villains like Bester as well. There’s some episodes that can go toe-to-toe with the best Start Trek episodes.

      BSG, on the other hand, felt kinda sour from the beginning, and only got worse from there. It tried too hard to make it’s characters “flawed”, and as result just made them all unlikable. A random cross section of society like the survivor fleet shouldn’t be “oops: all assholes!”. Like, at least GoT has the excuse that it’s depicting an actual culture that raises its people to be like that. Galactica had no excuse other than edgelord writer/producers. By the time second season rolled around, I was already seeing the puppet strings the writers were using to artificially maintain that: “this character hes been approaching sympathetic because we’ve been neglecting them for the past 3 episodes; we need to make them act like a D-bag next episode to throttle them back into the Mandated Asshole Range”.

      I basically watched the first season and a half not emotionally invested in anyone, only “enjoying” the show on a sort of clinical academic level. Then the Pegasus showed up, and it was a rolling atrocity factory that made even the Galactica assholes think it was too assholey… but only 2 of them could be arsed to do anything, everyone else just limply put their heads down and went along with it. At that point I threw up my hands and went “Fuck it: y’all deserve each other”, and stopped watching.

  12. Rho says:

    On the subject of Challenge runs: At first I thought I never did that, only to realize that I did, somewhat unconsciously.

    In strategy games, I usually have a “no first strike” rule. The in-game reason for this is simply that I’m too shiningly pure and noble to launch sneak attacks. The out-of-game reason is that snowballing early tends to kill the challenge unless there’s a strong balancing factor.

    Thus can be a real disadvantage as I’m often on off-balance early in a war and must react quickly and fight with bad units until I can recover and take the offensive.

  13. Lino says:

    When Paul said he uses Steam’s suggestions, I just remembered – have you guys ever heard of Steam 250? It’s uses Steam’s API, and has an extremely useful feature called Hidden Gems which looks for games with a low number of owners which have overwhelmingly positive reviews. There are some duds there, of course, but there are also a lot of…. hidden gems in there. It certainly makes discovering new games easier.

    In terms of devs I’m following, there really aren’t many. I used to follow Capcom exclusively for updates on a new Devil May Cry. Since we got that two years ago, I can rest easy for another ten years before they possibly make an update about a another one.

    Nowadays, I mainly follow Supergiant Games and Team Tempo. Supergiant (Bastion, Transistor, Pyre, Hades) are definitely my favourite new studio – they quickly established their own particular style, and ever since Bastion I’ve absolutely adored it.

    Tempo haven’t released any games yet – they’re an esports team that was made by one of the famous Hearthstone streamers back in the day, and now they’re making The Bazaar. Which is basically an autobattler for people who don’t like autobattlers. I don’t know how successful the game’s gonna be, but they’ve been really open with their development process, and it’s interesting to see. They’ve got a YouTube channel, if anyone’s interested.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Oh yeah, Capcom, while I’m not the biggest RE fan, I like Onimusha, DMC, and Dragon’s Dogma. Looking forward to DD2.

      1. The Big Brzezinski says:

        I saw the most bizarre thing on Steam. Capcom is selling Breath of Fire 1,2,3,4, and BoF: Dragon Quarter soundtracks, but not the games themselves. I don’t think they know how Steam works yet. But, at least they’re trying.

        1. John says:

          It’s a lot easier to rip some soundtrack files and slap them up on Steam than it is to port old console games to modern PCs. Capcom could of course have working versions of its old games on Steam easily enough if Capcom were only willing to embrace emulation. I just so happen to have working versions of the first two Breath of Fire games on the very PC I’m using right now. Unfortunately, history teaches us that Capcom is not willing to embrace emulation. If you want Breath of Fire on PC and you have no way of getting the original game files on to a computer yourself then you’re going to need to wait for Capcom to grudgingly allow Digital Eclipse to publish a technically-not-emulated Breath of Fire compilation the way they did for Mega Man or Street Fighter. I wouldn’t hold my breath (of fire) if I were you.

        2. tmtvl says:

          Not BoF 6? I wonder if they’re still holding out hope we all collectively forget it ever existed.

          1. Rho says:

            Wait, there was a 6?

            I’m not being sarcastic. If it got made I never heard about it.

            1. CSilvestri says:

              It was a mobile-only game that was never translated.

  14. The Big Brzezinski says:

    I hadn’t even tried update four of Satisfactory until recently with the announcement of update five. I’d given up owing to the poor quality of available planning tools making everything a chore for me. I’m used to programs for similar games that help you create a list of machines, then calculates the input/output for you. All the Satisfactory tools linked from official websites instead ask you for a rate of output for some product, then calculate the production line for you. This is utterly wrongheaded. I’m the one asking for this data! I have no production rate to give! I have no quota to meet, just one-time deliveries to make. Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s me who’s supposed to be having fun making these decisions, not some online tool. And you really do need tools for keeping track of things. You can grok a few constructors making plates and screws, but once you’ve started on petrochemicals, you really need to keep things tight.

    In desperation, I broke down and tried OpenOffice. I wish I had done so way back when I’d bough the game. Using an actual spreadsheet has transformed my Satisfactory experience from one of slogging through between high points to one of escalating mastery. For the first time, I feel like I really understand everything that’s going on. I keep track of all my recipes, both default and alternates, on the first sheet. On the others, I plan out individual facilities. I can confidently build factories to an actual specification I developed myself. I know all the required production and flow rates ahead of time, and can layout my conveyors accordingly. I’ve actually started looking forward to discovering new recipes. Best of all, I’ll never be dependent on some random internet person to update their tools to the latest version. I get all the data I need directly from the machines in the game.

    It’s not all sunshine, of course. Dealing with animals still sucks. Physics bugs still hurl me into the stratosphere sometimes. But now I can enjoy the game enough that it’s worth pushing through rough spots like these.

    1. bobbert says:

      You should try LibreOffice, it’s like OpenOffice, but better.

      You can do polynomial regressions!

  15. jng2058 says:

    Re: Babylon 5’s final seasons.

    The show was planned to go five seasons. However, early in season four the syndicated network (PTEN) they were on was folding up shop, so they had to rush and finish everything by the end of season four. But then TNT popped in and picked up the fifth season, but almost everything had been wrapped up in season four.

    So the end of season four is still good, but some things (the Minbari civil war in particular) were horribly truncated. Meanwhile season five feels a little aimless, especially the first half of that season which focuses on Byron and his telepath colony. The end of season five does wrap up to a satisfying conclusion, but the network fuckery does weaken the last two seasons somewhat.

    1. Daimbert says:

      It doesn’t help that both Byron and the new commander Lochley are really, really annoying.

    2. John says:

      One of the things that put me off the fifth season was the episode spent following a couple of maintenance guys around over the course of a day as some sort of alien attack happens in the background. In a typical scene, the maintenance guys arrive at Location A, just so happen to bump in to Main Cast Member B, observe Main Cast Member B doing something dramatic, and then talk about how great Main Cast Member B is. The idea appears to have been to introduce the main cast to new viewers on the new network. I’m not sure how well it worked, but I’m guessing not well. The episode must have set some kind television record for contrivances per minute. I’ve been told it was all the new network’s management’s idea. I’m not sure I believe that–I don’t think that JMS has ever really needed an external excuse to write a scene all about how great one of his characters is–but it’s plausible enough.

  16. Syal says:

    Not sure what CPU and GPU are, but I assume the G stands for Green Player Up, AKA the green mushroom from Mario. Which would make the C… Char Power Up? So, fire flower versus extra lives? That sounds right.

    Probably got to go with the extra lives here. Sure, the powers will make the levels easier, and maybe cost you fewer lives, but it sounds like you only get one here, and fire flower still won’t help with pits. There’s just nothing that’s going to equalize having crown-pixel number lives. (Or is “terrific” still stopping at actual numbers? Still gotta go with the lives, those pits are mean.)

    …or was this a more general question about glass cannons versus nerf tanks? If it’s more general, I’m going to have to say it depends on the game. Some of those games are already built around rocket tag, so the nerf tank straight doesn’t work. And several don’t let you avoid damage, so glass cannon doesn’t work. But, all things equal, I’d probably go with glass cannon; it’s fast, and fast is fun.

    1. Syal says:

      I almost never do challenge runs, and they’re mostly in really easy games. Straight Character Runs in games with Job Systems (Final Fantasy Tactics mostly), Solo Character in games with teams, beat a gimmick boss without using their gimmick, that kind of thing. Current challenge is a genocide run of The Outer Worlds, so no quests or non-robot companions.

      But I’ve got so many games I haven’t played, and games I haven’t played in a while, that mustering up a challenge run is getting hard.

    2. tmtvl says:

      I wonder… is the graphics card the glass cannon or the nerf tank in this analogy?

      1. Syal says:

        The G stands for Nerf.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          Gnerf. The G is silent.

  17. Chad+Miller says:

    Re: Challenge modes – I think my favorite is Ironmanning, or at least no manual saving, in games that allow it. Civilization being the one where it works the best (I mess up a war and we’re letting it ride for good or for ill)

  18. Philadelphus says:

    For developers I follow, Subset Games have made one game I adore (FTL), and one I initially bounced off of but have come around to enjoying (Into The Breach), so I will definitely give any future games they make serious consideration at least. The developers of CrossCode, Radical Fish Games, also have my full attention whatever they put out next due to how incredibly polished it was. Other than that, can’t think of any more of the top of my head.

  19. Henson says:

    My favorite challenge run I’ve ever done was Ocarina of Time with only three hearts. You really need to focus on attack patterns. A ton of fun.

    It’s odd to hear about a Prey challenge run where you don’t use any Typhon powers, because that’s the way I played the game on my first and only run. Why would I invest in powers that potentially make all the healing bots hostile?

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      Yes, the real challenge in Prey is the no-human powers run. No hacking, repair, or Leverage to get past obstacles. No repairing electrical junctions to avoid AoE damage to yourself or operators. No increased inventory space or recycling yield. No upgrading weapons past the first tier. No upgrading movement speed. Max 2 chips in your psychoscope/suit. Psi Hypos needed for most of your abilities.

      Either you go without neuromods at all or you turn turrets hostile to you (and can’t hack them back to your side because no hacking), along with an increased Nightmare spawn rate.

      I did this once and did not enjoy it.

    2. Mye says:

      Healing bot don’t go hostile, only turret.

  20. Jarrik Harleys says:

    Chris Hemsworth is already a Trek character (George Kirk for fifteen minutes at the beginning of the 2009 Star Trek reboot), so he’s probably out of the running for a hypothetical ST:TNG reboot. Tom Hiddleston, though…

    1. Chad Miller says:

      I mean, two separate human torches made it into the mcu as non-fantastic four characters…

  21. Dalkius says:

    On the Babylon 5 (often abbreviated B5) reboot – I don’t keep up with all the details, but I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff popping up on reddit, so here’s what’s happening as far as I know:

    TL;DR: I love B5, and I recommend people give the old one a proper go, and I hope the new one turns out okay, but who knows?

    The show is being rebooted by the original creator, J. Michael Straimnotlookinguphowtospellthis (hereafter abbreviated JMS), and is being paid for by CW (The CW?) as apparently there are some people high enough in their structure that were fans of the original to make the decision to start the whole convoluted process that is TV production. All they were initially going for was a pilot, and I think that JMS had finished writing that a few weeks back (though I’m less sure on this). Obviously it’s difficult to say at this stage, but it seems like it’ll be a traditional TV production, which I don’t know if people will consider that a good thing or a bad thing (though the Expanse got picked up by Amazon when the traditional network decided it couldn’t be bothered, so I think there’s a fair chance it can gothrough to completion if it gets up enough steam).

    As for the show, JMS hasn’t gone into details, but they have said that it is a reboot, they are trying to create a new thing, with new people, and that not everything is going to be the same. They didn’t want to try and make some kind of continuation due to how many of the original cast have passed away, and they don’t want to just tell the same story as before as there’d be no point in that. One of their tweets they said that they are not the same person or writer as they were nearly 30 years ago, and just trying to go through the same storybeats isn’t worth anyone’s time (not their exact wording, but that’s the general impression I got). They’ve also said that the original B5 had that predictive quality that sci-fi often has, and repeating that would just be tired and un-original, and since sci-fi is about looking forward you basically have to go through a different story as the world itself is drastically different from where it was 30 years ago (again, my words, so don’t hold JMS to any of this).

    I saw concern about it being on CW – it’s apparently known in the US for teen drama (my experience with them has just been The 100, and the DC TV shows). JMS in the past has said that they didn’t want to go back to B5 unless they got the budget and control to do what they wanted, and the fact that people in CW are fans hopefully means that that will happen. There’s obviously never any guarantees, but this isn’t Star Trek or Star Wars we’re talking about, no random non-sci-fi CEO is trying to focus group for that sweet sweet B5 money – this is happening because people are interested in it happening.

    JMS also got asked some questions, and I liked the answers – they were asked about teh idea of a newer, sexier reboot (i think the questions specifically mentioned CW), and they said it didn’t make sense for a military commander of a key space station to be a 20-something, so that sounds good on the teen drama angle. They were also asked what they thought of the Battlestar Galactica rebobot, and they said they felt it was too gloomy (or words to that effect) – this I find good, as I’ve become tired with all these shows wallowing in their own misery. I like the orignal tone that has plenty of lighthearted moments to get to know the characters and make the darker moments more meaningful.

    Overall, I am interested in it, because I really love my time with B5, and I want more of it (and hopefully it’ll get big enough for the universe to sustain itself, as the original spin-off Crusade was really cool but was cancelled before it could get going). JMS being in charge is good, but doesn’t guarantee anything – they also made the Legend of the Rangers pilot for another spin-off in the B5 universe, which was kind of the edgier spin-off with a younger cast (and that had the stupidest battle system (?) I think I’ve seen in a sci-fi). I also got tired of the DC shows a little, as they had the problem I think you were complaining a bit – each season the writers seemed to sit down, figure out what was happening that season, and write it to introduce the villian, build them up, then resolve the evil plot for the finale. This allows a reasonable continuous story within a season, but there’s no build up for anything in the future, so they just kind of end up repeating the same pattern over and over again. (And they then end up repeating all the inter-personal drama, since it all keeps getting resolved each season but they still need something for the next season.) Since JMS was the originator of continuous planned story in TV with B5 (or at least I haven’t heard anyone give an earlier example), I’ve got a reasonable amount of faith that it won’t end up like that, but who’s to say at this point? It’s something I’ll definitely want to watch out interest alone, but I’m probably going to be a year or more behind (since I’m not in the US and don’t have regular TV, I’m basically waiting for it to show up on Netflix or similar) so I may be so out of sync that I loose track of where it is and end up very late to the party.

    I would definitely recommend the original to anyone who’s got some spare time – as someone else mentioned, it’s far from perfect, but frankly that still leaves it as great sci-fi as far as I’m concerned, as, let’s face it, we’ve always had to look past the wobbly sets and varying quality in dialogue to get a feel for the ideas and stories behind them. I’ve just started my first re-watch in a while, and the pilot’s has some wobbly doors, and is a bit forced trying to fit in all the world building, but Mollari has a monologue that just perfectly captured the idea of the fading empire of the Centauri that is core to Mollari’s character, and I’m getting through season 1 and starting to see G’Kar show more of their character beyond the pure anger they start with, and I’m excited to see Mollari and G’Kar’s story again, and Morden’s asking people what they want, and it has Starfuries! Who else has Starfuries?

    So, hopefully that all makes sense and someone liked reading all that.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      CW descended from the original network that aired Babylon 5 which I guess is why they have the rights. It’s possible the reboot will be similar Superman and Lois in that it will be partly funded by HBO Max (which is why it looked more “cinematic” than your typical Arrowverse show) and so may air simultaneously on the streaming service and CW.

      If the show really is going to be partly funded by HBO Max then that could also explain why the reboot is happening in the first place, because the service wants more original content.

  22. tmtvl says:

    I like doing a challenge run every now and again. True Pacifist Arcanum, Fist Weapon-only Dark Souls, Bow-only Dark Souls 2, Fire Magic-only Dragon’s Dogma, FFX Rikku Solo run,…

    I’d really like it if more RPGs were possible to complete (or near-complete) as a True Pacifist (don’t attack at all, don’t let party members attack).

  23. beleester says:

    Pokemon Nuzlocke runs can be a fun self-imposed challenge, especially if you like permadeath/roguelike style challenges. It goes like this:

    1. Catch only the first pokemon you meet in each area (route, fishing zone, city, etc). If you fail to catch it, tough luck.
    1a. You can skip duplicates, if you like – it’s no fun playing with a team of six Pidgeys.
    2. If a pokemon faints, it’s gone forever. Release it, or box it.
    3. Give every pokemon a nickname, so you get more attached to them.

    The idea is that instead of just building a team of the most powerful pokemon you can find, you have to instead figure out how to use whatever team of misfits you encounter on your journey. Maybe you won’t find anyone with the right types for a gym and you’ll need to improvise a bit. Maybe you’ll get lucky, find a really strong pokemon who carries you through three gyms and then mourn them when they die to a lucky critical hit.

    The only downside is that it can get a little grindy, since you need to be higher level to get through gyms without losing anyone.

  24. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Regarding the new FF7 I think it’s unfair to say that the creators are just making a soulless cash grab. They added a ton of content, fleshed out ignored characters, cleaned up outdated systems, and even have a subplot about some spirits that seem to try to restore the game as it was, implying that the changes to the canon have a diegetic origin.
    Resident Evil 2 is also a brilliant example of a remaster done right. It gives you what RE2 gave you at the time, but ten times better.
    And to reiterate, yes ME2 is the best from the franchise, and no people don’t like it because of Cerberus or the Collectors. People like it because the squad is *fantastic*. Their recruitment mission are great, their loyalty missions are even better. The main story doesn’t hold up to scrutiny yeah, it’s also less than a third of the game during which you can just focus on gameplay. Writing good characters is what old Bioware did best, and they never did it better than in ME2.

    Looking down on people who like ME2 because we like Cerberus so much is as if I looked down on you for preferring ME1 and pretending it’s because you liked the elevator rides and mako planet exploration so much.

    1. Shamus says:

      Of course, not ALL fans of ME2 like Cerberus, but you’d be surprised at how common those folks are. Based on my interactions on YouTube and Reddit, there is a non-trivial section of the fanbase that thinks that TIM is a super-cool dude and the Cerberus plot was aces. Furthermore, those people tend to be… uh, I guess “The least friendly” is the diplomatic way of putting it. They can make a lot of noise. I don’t know what the actual numbers are, but the Cerberus fans are louder in their defense of ME2 than ME1 fans are in their defense of the first game. I’m willing to bet the Cerberus fans are also younger. (Possibly playing ME2 as teenagers, and now reaching their late 20s.)

      If I was an executive, I would not piss those people off without a really good reason.

    2. Syal says:

      It’s fairly hard to say exactly what crowd the FF7 Remake is made for, but I’m in it. I’m going to go with… spectaclization? The new version has added a whole lot of hype to things. Everything is upgraded; rare, memorable fights have been upgraded to bosses, and bosses that came from nowhere now have their own stages, to show off how dangerous they are. The combat is more visceral, and the fights have a lot more to them.

      There’s also a teasing metagame throughout the thing, with events and character interactions changing in the remake only to change back to the original at the last second (yeah, we couldn’t find a way to make HellHouse fit in this world, so JUST KIDDING SUCKERS HERE’S HELLHOUSE!). The ghosts seem like a really nice compromise to me; someone looked at the original, decided it didn’t make sense (why wouldn’t Cloud fight Reno in the church), and changed it to make sense/be cool, and then the ghosts change it back to keep the canon.

      There’s definitely some drag, and the ghosts get real bad by the end, but soulless it is not.

      …I have no comment on ME2. Still haven’t played any of them.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        There’s definitely some drag

        Hey, I remember that bit! You have to dress Cloud up as a girl in order to get into the sex-pest NPC’s mansion! Pretty funny, as I remember…


    3. Daimbert says:

      People like it because the squad is *fantastic*. Their recruitment mission are great, their loyalty missions are even better.

      Ultimately, that’s why I didn’t hate the story of ME2 as much as Shamus did, because I was able to see it for what it was: simply an excuse to get Shepard to go around recruiting interesting characters to the squad. Thus, it was something that you could pretty much ignore most of the time. Still, it would have been better with a better story, as it’s not a good sign when the main comment is “Ignore the main story and the characters in it that we spent a lot of time and effort writing and just focus on this part instead!”.

    4. PPX14 says:

      Interestingly I wasn’t hugely interested in the squad and their loyalty missions in ME2, the shift in overall tone and the way that that side-character development element was positioned in the story, focusing on the characters’ personalities and relatability, reduced my interest by comparison with the side characters’ use as vehicles and worldbuilding for the main plot and mystery in ME1. In ME2 they felt more extraneous, fanciful even.

      I liked Zaeed sure, mainly for his voice and funny attitude, but barely remember anything about the green one with the illness, and Miranda’s backstory with her sister was it? (other than the classic line “or does Cerberus really let you whore about in that outfit?”.) And missed the main character I’d liked from ME1 – Liara, yet wasn’t particularly interested in her Lair of the Shadow Broker which felt tacked on. ME2 seemed to diverge from the main story and the character missions seemed to diverge further from that, but not in a way that made me like any of them because they were rather different in tone to what I’d liked in the original.

  25. bobbert says:

    I think Shamus makes a very good point in that it is a BAD business decision to say, “You there, third from the left, it is your ox that will be gored in the upcoming remake, please don’t buy it.”

  26. Moridin says:

    Re: TFA
    I mean… they really shouldn’t have your password saved in a form they can read. I wouldn’t put that kind of incompetence past them, but if they can compare your passwords between different logins to see that they’re different, something is really, REALLY wrong about their security.

    Re: Challenge modes
    I don’t know that it’s my favourite, but one thing I’ve done quite a bit in Fallout New Vegas and Tale of Two Wastelands is equipment restricted runs. Unarmed and explosives only, energy weapons only, no armor, latest is pistols only, a few others (I also have a mod that increases the effectiveness of armor, including that worn by NPCs, and several other mods that generally make things more difficult). The interesting thing is how different Fallout 3 and New Vegas contents are (though part of that might be because Fallout 3 doesn’t originally have DR, so it doesn’t have to worry about you doing essentially no damage when you’re shooting at someone, whether you’re using a sniper rifle or a laser pistol). Compared to New Vegas, Capital Wasteland is a nightmare. Want to use energy weapons? In New Vegas, you can find a laser pistol right away, and Chet is always selling a plasma pistol (as well as at least one mod for it, if you have Gun Runners Arsenal. I’m not completely sure, but I think it’s a guaranteed spawn). He also has reasonable quantities of SEC, especially if you’re willing to use bulk ammo. Capital Wasteland? You can’t get anything in the vault, you have to get to Megaton and there Moira will sell you a basic laser pistol and a couple dozen energy cells for it. After you get a couple more levels, you might find a recharger rifle in shops (you know, the second weakest energy weapon in the game). Pistols only? There aren’t actually a lot of different kinds of pistols in Fallout 3 and to be fair, the 10mm pistol you start with is I believe third best (unless you count unique weapons and DLC, mainly Mothership Zeta and alien weapons). In vanilla Fallout 3 it’s fairly good, but TTW plays by New Vegas rules and it’s essetially useless against anything that has substantial amounts of DT, like supermutants. (And speaking of DT, Fallout 3 content has a lot more heavily armored enemies than New Vegas – not only are there supermutants – DT 15 – all over the place, but there are a lot more enemies wearing heavy armor or even power armor, mainly thanks to Enclave and Talon mercenaries). Fallout New Vegas is a lot more accommodating if you want to roleplay a character who uses a certain style of weapons.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      I mean… they really shouldn’t have your password saved in a form they can read. I wouldn’t put that kind of incompetence past them, but if they can compare your passwords between different logins to see that they’re different, something is really, REALLY wrong about their security.

      Not really, all that’s needed is to check if the hashes are the same. No Internet-facing company should be storing passwords as plaintext—as soon as you set up your account they’ll store the hash of the password and forget the plaintext version every existed. Then they just check if the hash of what you submit when you log in matches the hash on file, without ever needing to pass plaintext around. And realistically nowadays you should also be salting passwords before hashing (by adding the same long string of gibberish to each one), so that attackers can’t reverse-engineer hashes of plaintext by brute force.

      1. Canthros says:

        I’m probably being Captain Obvious, but they can only compare hashes if each system uses the same salt for the hash. Which they shouldn’t be doing for the same reasons that they shouldn’t be storing unsalted hashes.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          How else would you compare them? Genuine question. I’ve never implemented any of this stuff, just read up on it a bit out of curiosity some time ago.

          1. tmtvl says:

            You randomly generate the salt and store it with the other user data in your DB.

            1. Philadelphus says:

              Oh, interesting! That makes sense.

  27. The Rocketeer says:

    Not sure if I’ve actually done anything I’d qualify as a “challenge run,” although I’ve got some borderline cases.

    Closest is probably beating Final Fantasy VIII with a genuine minimum-level party. I call this borderline, as it’s a “challenge” in which you attain near-endgame power right after the tutorial, then never encounter any enemies except bosses, which you invariably steamroll. The real challenge is in holding your sanity together through endless Triple Triad, which I failed. I am a broken man.

    Next is a fist weapons only run of Dark Souls III, which again is only challenging at the very beginning; you can’t get an actual fist weapon until the third area of the game, so you’re obliged to beat at least two bosses with your bare hands if you’re a hardliner like I was. The moment you get a Caestus, though, the world’s your oyster; it turns out fists and claws are quite robust weapons, and because they weigh nearly nothing, you end up being able to wear heavy armor with minimal stat investment in your encumbrance. It turned into some of the most fun I’ve ever had with a FromSoft game. I’m sure there were moments when it was a bit of a liability, but I did manage a first-round TKO versus Darkeater Midir, so this is less a challenge, more of a lifestyle.

    I think the only legit challenge run I’ve ever actually done is a Cowboy Challenge I devised myself for Fallout: New Vegas. I once had the rules posted somewhere, but it was basically just a set of restrictions on gear and skills to roleplay an actual 19th century cowboy.

    I mean, that and playing stealth games no alerts/no kills, but that’s just good manners.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Punchyfist Souls is best Souls.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Going back to Demon’s Souls, I’ve had a stable of recurring characters that I use for various builds. One that I never knew what to do with was Azul, who I made in each game and then never really did anything with.

        At long last, in Dark Souls III I realized that Azul was born only to throw hands. One day, when I have the Demon’s Souls remake, I will right my old error and unleash Azul on Boletaria to make Legendary Big M proud.

  28. Rene Jimenez says:

    regarding the 2-Factor Authentication problem: Jesse Cox also went through this last week. His youtube account got blocked and the methods for authenticating himself did not seem to work… until he wiped the cache, cookies and all browsing+search history on his google account

  29. Elmeri says:

    I did a “Kill Everyone” run in Marrakesh level in Hitman 2 a year ago. It was a half accident. I was doing an elusive target (so I couldn’t try it again in case I screwed up) and managed to completely lose track of the dude. I had no idea where he could’ve gone. So I did what I could and started systematically killing everyone, hoping to eventually run into the guy I was actually supposed to kill.

    Of course he was one of the last ones, crouching in some side room on the opposite side of map from his original position. When I put a bullet in him, I had killed about 3000 people. My score was in the ballpark of a million minus points.

    Level complete though.

    1. Platypus says:

      Its fine the agency could just cover up your murder spree by saying it was black friday at the Marrakesh bazzar, such a death count is to be expected.

  30. Utzel says:

    I like Bigmooneys Hitman videos (and more of his), the “normal” runs he does are fun too. For example he does the elusive targets completely blind and first time, in keeping with the spirit of them. He’s good, but not perfect and “bad” enough to get into hijinks to make it all interesting.

    I also highly recommend the Hitman videos by BedBananas, the last one is a work of art.

    1. Shamus says:

      Thanks for the recommendation. These are brilliant.

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