Diecast #384: Mythic Tier Cyberpunk Spire

By Shamus Posted Monday Jun 13, 2022

Filed under: Diecast 86 comments

The Summer Game Fest happened this weekend. That’s like eight different events: Day of Devs, Devolver Digital Showcase, Future Games Show, Netflix Geeked Week, Epic Store Showcase, Tribeca Games Spotlight, Xbox + Bethesda Showcase, and the PC Gaming Show.

It’s been… a lot. I don’t know if anyone is interested in a wrap-up post, but I might do one of those.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

Show notes:

00:00 Ren Faire

So, is there a hard line between Ren Faire and SCA stuff? Or do the two hobbies bleed into each other?

06:59 Summer Game Fest 2022

We use the term “punch drunk” to describe someone who’s feeling a little scrambled on account of taking a few blows to the head. I think we need an equivalent term for when you’ve just sat and watched 90 minutes of videogame trailers and their constant stream of screaming, strobing, rushing, flying, exploding, punching, dubstepping, climbing, crafting, and gunfire.

11:35 Diablo Immortal

Here I spend 8 minutes explaining why I’m not going to waste time on the topic? Anyway, here is the post I wrote a couple of years ago where I predicted the “lootboss” idea so a publisher can route around anti-lootbox legislation.

Here is an overview of the game’s monetization system:

Link (YouTube)

19:18 Amazing Cultivation Simulator

“Dwarf Fortress but based on wuxia instead of medieval fantasy.”

22:30 Midnight Fight Express

I still haven’t figured out which way this game is going to go. Maybe this game is like Batman and I’ll learn to master it with time. Maybe the game is about to ramp up the difficulty to insane levels and I should get out now.

26:59 Mythic Tier

What other bits of recent gaming jargon have you heard from children that don’t understand the original context?

29:47 Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

I can’t really fault the designers. They retained the vast open space and thoughtful pacing of the original games. But forwatever reason, that pace just doesn’t work for me in a ground-based game.

39:20 Cyberpunk spire

How unexpected.

41:20 Mailbag: Collectibles and Unlockables

Dear Diecast,

What do you think makes collectibles and unlockables satisfying or unsatisfying? Any Do’s and Don’t’s you have when it comes to video games putting in things to find and pick up, and/or for reward systems in relation to the player’s behaviour?

If you were designing a game and had to have collectibles in it, how would you know if you’re offering the player an engaging activity or a dull chore? How might you lessen the odds of the latter?

All the best,

52:26 Mailbag: New experience increases appreciation of old thing

Dear Diecast,

Excitement tends to come from new, novel experiences but sometimes a new thing can show why an old thing is great. I tried Master of Orion 2016 out and found it slow and claustrophobic in its menu-heaviness. 40 minutes later I bailed out and hopped back onto good old MOO2…but with new appreciation for some things. Of particular note were the drag-and-drop interface and flexibility of the game’s systems. To put it simply: I realized that MOO2 was designed to be played. It facilitates play almost to the point of feeling tactile, like a physical board game. I hadn’t fully realized this.

Have you had an experience where a new game or software made you see something old in a new way?

Chris P.


From The Archives:

86 thoughts on “Diecast #384: Mythic Tier Cyberpunk Spire

  1. MerryWeathers says:

    06:59 Summer Game Fest 2022

    The game I’m most interested in was Pentiment, which I knew of for a while but initially was just ambivalent about because it seemed like Josh Sawyer’s ripoff of Disco Elysium but it seems like it’s more of its own thing with an interesting art style.

    The rest of the games revealed were either stuff I didn’t care for or were just fine with. The last E3 was more exciting.

    11:35 Diablo Immortal

    That’s still around? I thought it came out years ago already since the announcement and infamous reveal happened four years ago.

    1. John says:

      It’s been out on phones. It only recently became available on PC. It might still technically be in beta or some such thing. I haven’t been paying all that much attention. It is, however, hard to miss all the gamer outrage if you frequent any gaming news sites.

      1. Thomas says:

        I was going to say they should have skipped the PC port as the game was only ever going to enrage fans…but it will probably make them money and it seems Blizzard have long stopped caring about their reputation.

        There were a lot of reports in the last couple of years that Activision had recently begun to turn the thumbscrews to make Blizzard more profit focused – but then it turned out Blizzard was run by a bunch of unleashed arseholes so there wasn’t a reputation to save anyway.

        1. Mattias42 says:

          The worst part, is that Eternal might be a bit of a prototype for just how much they can get away with in Diablo 4. How much squeal they’ll have to suffer, for max amount of bacon.

          There’s a job listing currently posted for ‘Product Manager,’ where there’s a LOT~ of buzz-words. And it’s pretty clear Activision-Blizzard are considering the live service model a MUST.

          Team Name:

          Job Title:
          Product Manager, Diablo IV

          Requisition ID:

          Job Description:

          Blizzard Entertainment is looking for a passionate, organized, and driven individual to manage the Diablo IV in-game shop experience. This role will be a key member of the Diablo IV commercial team. The ideal candidate will combine their experience working in a live service gaming environment with meticulous attention to detail, strong interpersonal communication skills, and passion to delight our players.

          Covid-19 Hiring Update:?We’ve transitioned to a work-from-home model, and we’re continuing to interview and hire during this time. ?This role is expected to begin as a remote position. We understand each person’s circumstances may be unique and will work with you to explore possible interim options.

          Product Manager, Diablo IV

          You will play a critical role in managing the Diablo IV in-game store experience for millions of players around the world. As this is a key component of Diablo IV’s seasonal content strategy, you will be the tip of the spear planning the content release schedule, configuring products using our internal tooling, and working with stakeholders across disciplines to ensure regular updates to the store throughout each season go smoothly. Additionally, you will strive to continually improve processes and encourage best practices.

          Key Responsibilities

          Manage the virtual product offers of the Diablo IV in-game storefront throughout each season to deliver an exceptional player experience.

          Utilize internal tools to configure product contents, pricing, and availability.

          Assist with scenario planning and maintaining the shop content roadmap.

          Organize and maintain an ever-growing catalog of virtual products to facilitate communication and analysis.

          Work with the analytics team to help identify sales trends and quantify purchase behaviors.

          Quickly identify and resolve unexpected issues related to the shop experience as they arise.

          Create contingency plans to mitigate errors and downtime risks.

          Collaborate with Engineering, Production and QA stakeholders to push updates, resolve blockers, and create visibility.

          Player Profile

          1-3 years of relevant experience working on a live service game, preferably in analytics, monetization, QA or production.

          Experience with agile development processes.

          The ability to interpret and analyze eCommerce sales data, and apply those insights toward recommendations focused on improving the shop and content offerings.

          Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience.

          Extreme attention to detail and drive for organization.

          Proactively builds relationships with stakeholders across various internal teams.

          Strong verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills.

          Experience with reading and interpreting analytics dashboards.

          A passion for video games!

          Blizzard Entertainment is a global company committed to growing our employees. We offer generous benefits and perks with an eye on providing true work / life balance. We’ve worked hard to champion an intensely collaborative and creative environment, a diverse and inclusive employee culture, and training and opportunity for professional growth. Our people are everything. Our core values are real, and our mission has never changed.

          Sorry for the wall of text, but this just SCREAMS ‘going to be taken down and/or heavily edited, once gamers start grumbling. Haven’t seen something so tone-deaf since the Frogware, & how their old publisher debacle being all butt-hurt, debacle.

          Source: https://www.wowhead.com/news/blizzard-hiring-diablo-4-in-game-shop-product-manager-327360

          1. Geebs says:

            That last paragraph you quoted should really get Blizzard done for false advertising.

            1. Mattias42 says:


              Man, I can barely still believe that Activision used to be the semi-artsy good guy that just sometimes dropped a Prototype or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater from near nowhere amid the more standard bread makers, and Blizzard the consummate, downright perfectionist obsessive that spent years on games like Starcraft 2 & Warcraft 3.

              Blizzard especially. They used to be right there, next to VALVE, as the ‘when its done PROPERLY’ guys in the entire medium.

              Really feels like a whole lifetime ago. :(

  2. Chris says:

    Well, legislation somewhat worked in Belgium. They have an antilootbox law that is something like “if you pay real money for something in-game where the reward is not fixed, it’s a lootbox”. As a result diablo immortal didn’t come out there (and not in the Netherlands either since blizzard handles it as one region).
    I guess that if the laws would account for the whole of the EU, they would’ve tried to change it to avoid the laws. But hey, if youre small enough to be ignored you can do something.

    In the end blizzard did what they did best. Take a genre and perfect it. StarCraft did rts, diablo did dungeon crawling, diablo 2 did arpgs. Wow did MMOs, and diablo immortal did mobile gaming.

    1. Arumin says:

      Also, it didn’t release in the Netherlands because we have the same lootbox rules here.

    2. smosh says:

      Yes. Working around a law by interpreting it very literally only works in countries where judges don’t go by the spirit of the law, but by the letter of it. I.e. the USA.

      Putting a 3-minute rift dungeon in front of your paid-for lootbox won’t fly in Europe. It’s still a loot box. Legislation is coming.

      1. Also Tom says:

        Whenever I see a judge described as one who “goes by the spirit of the law rather than the letter” that immediately tells me that I need to stay far away from that judge, because it is very likely that his interpretation of the “spirit of the law” will be affected by whether what he had for breakfast that morning is bothering him.

        Not to say that you can’t run into that issue with a judge who just goes by the letter, mind, but at least then he’s interpreting something that’s written down, not some nebulous notion of what the writers of the law meant to do.

        1. Thomas says:

          It was my impression that it was the other way round as well. The US and UK have common law, a lot of European countries, included Belgium, have codified law.

          Perhaps my understanding of the distinction is naive.

        2. The Nick says:

          That’s a function of living in a place with terrible judges.
          Believe you me, I know how that is.
          The problem with bad judges who go by the “letter of the law” is that, by definition of being a bad judge, they’re more than willing to go against the letter of the law.
          The best outcome comes from just having good judges. It shouldn’t matter how a judge does his job – the outcome should be the same in the end.

  3. Steve C says:

    Sseth has a great video about Cultivator Simulator.
    I’ve never tried it. Only heard reports on the insane fever dream that is that game. I love that those types of games exist and enjoy hearing about them. But I don’t do enough LSD to understand them.

    1. MelTorefas says:

      This steam review of Amazing Cultivation Simulator is my favorite review I have ever read of anything, basically ever.


    2. Gautsu says:

      Yeah Sseth’s videos are pretty great

  4. Randy says:

    In my experience, a ren faire is usually put on by the reenactors and attended by the cosplayers (with a bit of overlap, of course). What’s really fun is when non-medieval cosplayers show up. Sometimes it’s just a trekkie violating the prime directive (or reenacting a scene from a Gordon R. Dickson novel maybe), but sometimes there’s an anime character in a mech suit watching a joust, and it’s hilarious.

    Now what we really need is some Harry Turtledove fans showing up at a civil war reenactment.

    1. Henson says:

      Hmmm, that sounds awfully familiar….

  5. Thomas says:

    I would be interesting in a write-up on what you thought about all the games announced
    If E3 dies off, it’s going to be really weird for new gamers in a few years that every publisher under the sun is still choosing to release all their game trailers in one random week on June.
    The games that caught my eye were:

    Demonschool – A Persona inspired tactical RPG. I’ve only recently learned that Valkyria Chronicles was copying everything from Fire Emblem, and one of my favourite games was actually a whole genre. Now that genre is being merged with another one of my favourite things.

    Flintlock – An action RPG with wild looking combat and a gorgeous Carribbean inspired fantasy setting. I hope this isn’t darksouls.

    Tciba – A game with the look and vibe of Moana where you can possess animals and swim around as a turtle

    Forspoken – Square Enix are committing really hard to the concept of a normal modern person finding themselves in a fantasy world. Unlike Isekai the protagonist really does seem to be a normal person. That’s weird enough for videogames that I want to try it

  6. Ander says:

    Not terminology, but I wish the Pokemon Go crowd understood that shinies used to mean something.
    Also on lack of context, Persona is an excellent example of:
    > Only played Persona 5
    > Plays another JRPG with relationship mechanics.
    > “You can see the clear influence of Persona 5”

    1. chris says:

      My skin still crawls of how people reviewing the SMT mainline series were wondering where the relationship stuff was. How people get confused if they ever try persona 1 or 2. Or people calling anything difficult “the dark souls of” or “dark soulsian difficult”.

      Terminology also has taken some damage. RNG has replaced random or randomness (” oh, that is just RNG” instead of ” oh thats just random” What does, “thats just random number generator” mean). DPS has replaced damage dealer, damage (“I play DPS” I play damage per second?)

      1. Ander says:

        Some of that’s lack of context but I think some is just language morphing and shorthand developing. People who use, for example, DPS in that way probably know what it means but say it that way rather than “I play a role whose primary contribution is high damage-per-second.” Reference to Dark Souls, on the other hand, is more likely a small reference pool.

      2. Philadelphus says:

        I read “Oh, that’s just random number generation” in my head, which at least makes grammatical sense.

      3. Retsam says:

        I rather disagree with both terminology examples.

        I think the point of both is both the shorthand and the flexibility – RNG can be both an individual “roll of the dice” (“I got bad RNG”) and also the overall system which requires rolling of dice (“this game has too much RNG”), and DPS is both the role (“I primarily play ranged DPS”), and the chief attribute (“this gun has more DPS”). Most of these examples are more awkward and longer without the jargon.

    2. RamblePak64 says:

      My favorite part about that is when I saw the relationship mechanics in Persona my response was “Oh, so they just took a dating sim and inserted it into an actual video game”.

      It was still a very reductionist thought at the time, but the whole time management aspect of Persona’s school life and character interaction is effectively the basis of Japanese dating sims. I think Tokimeki Memorial popularized it? I dunno the history too closely, but it really goes to show the ignorance of the Western press and gaming audience that Persona is treated as being the origin of all of these things (I mean, cripes, Harvest Moon was built on such mechanics as well).

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        To be fair this is not unique to this specific case. Popularity of genres and mechanics ebbs and flows and it is common to refer to whatever title is currently flagship for a given phenomenon. You yourself mention Harvest Moon which has basically supplanted by Stardew Valley. Starcraft would be this to Command & Conquer, which was this to Dune 2, which wasn’t even the actual first RTS but like three people in the world remember what came before it. Final Fantasy 7 was probably this for PC players regarding JRPGs in general.

        In all honesty it’s not always a bad thing, I’d rather someone tell me that the game is “like Deponia (or Monkey Island)” than go down the memory lane explaining that it’s kinda like the first Larry or King’s Quest without the parser which were kinda like Zork but with graphics, which was kinda like a choose your own adventure book but…

  7. Joshua says:

    You have a lot of people from SCA who will go to Renaissance festivals, but it’s my understanding that they view it as the Disney theme park version and go for the spectacle rather than historical accuracy. Ren Faires tend to be pretty anachronistic for the times they are supposedly depicting, especially with many of the things sold.

    Meanwhile, I’ve heard stories from friends about some SCA people who get pretty snooty about the historical accuracy of things like buttons.

    1. John says:

      I haven’t been to a Renaissance Faire since the 1990s, but if we’ve reached the point where people are wandering around in elf ears now then I think we’ve gone well beyond merely anachronistic.

      1. Rho says:

        I attended one the loudest Hawaiian shirt imaginable, and I looked pretty tame in the crowd. It gets weird out there at Ren Fair.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Yeah, I was debating with myself if I should wear my strappy goth pants, but went with beige slacks, which is good because it was downright muddy out!

      2. Kyle Haight says:

        Some years back I went to a wedding at a Renaissance Faire and they asked us to come in costume. I seriously considered going in a gorilla suit on the grounds that gorillas existed during the Renaissance.

    2. Taellosse says:

      The overlap between people interested in RenFaires, the SCA, and general fantasy/sci-fi geekery tends to be pretty high, and it’s not terribly unusual for people more accustomed to cosplay at a convention to turn up in costume at a RenFaire – they generally have no dress code or period-accuracy expectations, and while dedicated enthusiasts might roll their eyes at anacronisms or genre-breaking, it’s seldom cause for actual friction.

      The SCA is a bit of a unique situation – while its members very often have interests in many other areas of genre fandom, the events run by the organization are kind of a thing-in-themselves. They’re not exactly a LARP, but it has elements of that, and a significant fraction of the attendees kind of treat it like one, so the costumes many wear are part of a persona they’re performing while in attendance, not just a display of fandom. I’m not sure someone dressing in a fantasy getup would get into actual trouble, but it would be discouraged, I’m fairly sure.

      1. eaglewingz says:

        Being older than Shamus®, I guarantee that back in the day wearing a fantasy costume to SCA was trouble.

        Getting hit by one of those swords without the proper armor hurt.

  8. John says:

    I’ve been reading about the connection between Deserts of Kharak and Homeworld and, boy, is it ever confusing. Deserts of Kharak was originally called Hardware: Shipbreakers and had nothing whatsoever to do with Homeworld. However, the team behind it included a whole bunch of former Homeworld developers. At some point during development, they got the rights to use the Homeworld IP from, of all places, Gearbox, at which point they renamed and, I presume, re-jiggered the game to make it more explicitly Homeworld-ish. Was the game always intended as a Homeworld spiritual prequel? Was a non-Homeworld game hastily modified to accommodate an older IP? I have no idea.

    Incidentally, the similarity between the titles Hardware: Shipbreakers and Hardspace: Shipbreaker is not a coincidence. Both games are by Blackbird Interactive.

    1. Rho says:

      Always I tended as a spritual predecessor. That’s why it was so easy to adjust in the IP; thecharacters and setting were already in place from what Ice heard, so they just adjusted dome names.

      1. Terradyne says:

        While it was always intended to be similar, as far as I can remember the original game wasn’t going to be the same kind of RTS it ended up as. They might have wanted to get there, but at the time it wasn’t really possible – they lacked the funding and the IP, obviously. They held something of a not-kickstarter backing campaign at the time – ironically when they changed the game and got Gearbox backing them they refunded it all, but still gave us the game anyway, for free.

        So while they might have had some plot notes knocking around as a just-in-case thing, the characters and plot would have had to be adapted more than a little to make it work. Assuming it had them, I seem to remember it was tacking more towards a multiplayer thing than singleplayer at the time, though it was a while ago…

  9. Christopher says:

    The Turtles beat em up was my favorite game out of these conferences, but it’s been a known quantity for ages – and is out in three days.

    Resident Evil 4 Remake and Street Fighter 6, those were cool. I hope Capcom shows something new from Itsuno, guy’s either been working on Rival Schools or Dragon’s Dogma for two years, but maybe it’s not in the cards. I also don’t know what Shu Takumi has been doing lately, if that guy has a new Ace Attorney or some other new IP up his sleeves.

    Team Ninja is doing a not-Nioh 3 called Wolong, which is probably gonna feel like a continuation of the Nioh game style, only it’s in China this time. I really liked Nioh 2 so I’m down for that. I have faith in their ability to make a good action game like that.

    I thought the indie games on Day of the Devs looked surprisingly good. There was a chillout mermaid game called Naiad, a weirdo secrets-focused metroidvania game called Animal Well, a funny little sorting game called A Little To The Left where an annoying cat kept ruining your tidy work, and even one where you jump from shadow to shadow called Schrim or something. I was surprised by how much I vibed with each of them. Only problem is all these games, besides possibly Animal Well, looked like the sortsa games you can beat in an hour. It’s not a lot to sink your teeth into, and the gameplay parts seemed pretty slight. That’s why indie games like Turtles(or traditional games rather) are more my jam, ’cause I can actually picture myself replaying that and trying different characters or co-op and all that. I’m sure Naiad is gonna be a good time but it’ll probably just gather dust for the next 20 years on my switch desktop after that first hour you know lol.

    1. John says:

      I haven’t been paying close attention to the flood of trailers and announcements. It’s all just a vague blur to me. For various reasons, I almost never buy games at or near release and so it seems like wasted effort to get invested in a game before people have had a chance to play it and a critical consensus has had time to form.

      That said, Street Fighter VI! I think the visual style is interesting. As a big Fantasy Strike fan, I think the alternate “modern” control scheme is a promising development and that purists can go cry themselves to sleep. It’s not like they’re taking motion inputs out of the game, for heaven’s sake. The Drive gauge is probably going to be too complicated for me, but I think that every Street Fighter game since the Alpha series has been too complicated, so that’s not saying much.

      I am so excited for Street Fighter VI, in fact, that I finally went and bought Street Fighter V. (It cost me a whole dollar in the Capcom Summer 2022 Bundle.) If that sounds weird, consider that I didn’t buy Street Fighter IV until Street Fighter V had been out for a year. At this rate, I may buy Street Fighter VI before Street Fighter VII is even announced!

      1. Christopher says:

        I’m not a hundred percent on board with everything they’ve shown of Street Fighter 6, but I think it’s a huge relief that it actually seems to be a game they spent time and money on getting right. It looks distinctly different in style and direction from 4 and 5, it looks expensive, it looks like they’re putting a lot of stuff in it across the board – for characters, for modes, for all that jazz. That’s a far cry from how Street Fighter V came out prematurely and didn’t feel like a game that should’ve been sold until like two-three years in – and I liked playing that game quite a lot.

        And despite having a very distinct direction this time, the urban graffiti hip hop stuff and more realistic rendering, I don’t get the impression they’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They’ll give you both the old and new control schemes, easy controls and a wide variety of mechanics with the new meter stuff, there’s old and new characters given equal billing, they’ll give you the old and new costumes and presumably the old music will show up next to the new as well. I just hope you don’t gotta fork out cash for every little thing like in SFV – I know capcom don’t have nintendo money, but paying real money(or in-game money that’s hard to grind and you can buy with real money instead) isn’t a way to endear yourself to an audience that just bought you 60 dollar game.

        1. John says:

          For me, the worst part of Street Fighter V has been the fact that there are thirty or so characters on the character select screen with shopping cart logos super-imposed on their faces. I have to keep reminding myself that I got sixteen playable characters for my dollar, which is, on a character per dollar basis, actually very good and certainly better than the last fighting game I purchased.

          My big hope for Street Fighter VI is that for the first time in a 3D Street Fighter game Ken will have non-awful hair.

          1. bobbert says:

            My big hope for Street Fighter VI is that for the first time in a 3D Street Fighter game Ken will have non-awful hair.

            If we are lucky, they could give us mix-and-match hairstyles. How much fun would it be to play Ken with Miss Lee’s hair?

    2. tmtvl says:

      As soon as Dragon’s Dogma 2 gets announced it’s going on my to-buy list. Its my favourite Capcom franchise now, surpassing both DMC and Onimusha.

      1. RamblePak64 says:

        I want Dragon’s Dogma 2, but I am setting myself up for disappointment. I am prepared for Itsuno’s retweet of the Capcom Showcase to amount to nothing more than a next-gen upgrade for Xbox Series and PS5.

        1. RamblePak64 says:

          I set the bar low and still it wasn’t low enough.

      2. The Rocketeer says:

        They recently let the Dragon’s Dogma 10 Year Anniversary come and go with only a little commemorative webpage. You’d think if they had anything at all in the can after two years of work they’d have been motivated to announce it then, or shortly after at one of the game shows.

        I’m okay treating DD2 as something that will never happen, and if it does then I’ll just be pleasantly surprised.

        1. Thomas says:

          They’re holding a Dragon’s Dogma 10 Year Anniversary event on Thursday (6pm ET / 12am CET)

    3. Redrock says:

      Resident Evil 4 Remake is one of my two top contenders for the elusive Most Unnecessary Horror Game Remake, the other being Dead Space. Both games are absolutely playable as is, both are great. Seems like a waste of time, money and effort. It’s like there is a remake spectrum, where on one extreme you have Capcom who’ll remake anything and everything and on the other extreme yyou have Konami who wouldn’t even release the first 4 Metal Gear Solid games as part of the shittily emulated PS Plus Premium Classics collection.

      1. RamblePak64 says:

        I have a theory Capcom may be doing some “ret-conning” of the Resident Evil timeline after six in particular was received so negatively. Can’t say for sure, of course, but we have remakes of the first three games now and are skipping Code Veronica to jump right into 4, which has a hint or two that it could tie into Village.

        Of course, I’m not a fan of this potential reasoning either way, because a lot of the plot turns in Resident Evil Village had me groaning and weeping after VII seemed to get things back on track. Additionally, one of the best things about Resident Evil IV is how much of a big dork Leon is. He’s like the guy that wants to be Dante from Devil May Cry, but he’s really bad at it, but gosh you just admire his effort to seem cool and crack jokes while all the villains take themselves too seriously. I can’t help but feel like they’re totally going to go serious with this remake and therefore remove that character trait from Leon, which is honestly what made him stand out among all the other protagonists.

        And yeah, a remake of RE4, Dead Space, and now Last of Us Part I, all of which are completely unnecessary. At least RE4 is closer to 20 years old than it is 10, though.

        1. Redrock says:

          Oh, I forgot about Last of Us Part 1. That one is even crazier than the other two, and it’s made worse by the Part 1 nonsense. Last of Us wasn’t Part 1 of anything, it was a complete and self-contained story. Naughty Dog doesn’t seem to realize that the sequel won’t become any less of a hot mess if they graft in onto the original with rusty nails. And I didn’t even think the original was all that good.

      2. Christopher says:

        I think some remakes are made with different things in mind, you know. With games like Metroid 1 or Metroid 2, an overhaul is welcome because the original games are so clearly outdated and outdone by later games in the franchise. Resident Evil 2 Remake and 3 Remake are very different from the originals because they updated them to the current gameplay standard that Resident Evil 4 basically established in the first place. Resident Evil 4 is obviously already there, and IMO one of the best games ever, but that doesn’t mean a remake is unwelcome. As an example, look at the Ocarina of Time 3D remake or the Link’s Awakening remakes, which stick close to the original. Just a visual overhaul, remixed music and some quality of life and control features can go a long way, and I don’t think it’s out of order to give Resident Evil 4 a treatment like that after nearly 20 years and three console generations.

        For me the worry is mostly they’re gonna change a lot about it as an experience, pulling in unwelcome modern tropes and putting the tone of the remakes or RE7 or 8 on top of the original. I don’t need the big cheese to be a stalker character, y’know. When the original is a quality work that holds up, I think the key is to enhance what’s there instead of drastically changing it, and I’m not sure they will do that. But they’re working from a better starting point than most games at least. Personally I’m really looking forward to it, since it’s the Resident Evil game I absolutely love the most. I have liked others, but since RE4 has been the king for 17 years, I think it’s absolutely worth taking another look at it.

  10. kunedog says:

    This is where I learned of Diablo Immortal’s monetization:

    The second thing he talks about is the dungeon “reward” of a purchase, the price of which increases with every dungeon. Jaded as I was by Diablo Immortal’s announcement, this shocked me. By this time he’s encountered a “reward” of a $45 purchase (basically a full game price).

    All the way back to Diablo 2, I played the offline mode almost exclusively because I could feel the slight lag/jitter of online mode, and it annoyed me. Once they announced D3 was online-only I swore it off, and I’ve never regretted it.

  11. tmtvl says:

    For collectibles it depends, I like having meaningful collectibles (like glyphs in Soul Reaver) and I’m fine if those have achievements associated with them (but it’s better to make the cheevos for collecting X of them and be visible, rather than hidden collectible-specific ones).

    However, for really painful challenges (play through DS2 without dying, win a Chocobo race with a total time of 0 or less), I prefer the collectible to A: not have anything to do with cheevos and B: be not really meaningful.
    The Illusory rings in DS2 are fine, they don’t count for an achievement and all they do is turn a piece of your equipment invisible, which at best has minor use for PVP.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      I’m currently getting the collectibles in The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe. There’s no reward for them, as The Narrator keeps reminding me, but I’m currently up to 18/6 after The Narrator ran me through the Memory Zone of me collecting them again, twice, including once backwards. It’s great.

    2. Geebs says:

      I don’t like achievements at all. At best, they’re designed to drive engagement in that creepy “we want this to be the only game you play” way. At worst, and this is obviously the real reason they exist, they’re designed to normalise the dopamine hit some players get from having a little pop-up tell them they did something of arbitrary significance, which then allows the publishers to Pavlov players into responding the same way to microtransaction popups. It’s all about tricking people into thinking there’s some value into ploughing extra time (and money, to save time) into a game.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I’m going to assume you’re primarily focused on multiplayer here, and possibly some single-player titles that try to exploit grindy gameplay (I’m looking at you AC:Odyssey and your XP packs…) but I still tend to associate achievements mostly with single player games that either have no microtransactions or if they do they tend to be unrelated to actual progression (like extra costumes for characters). In that context I think well designed achievements can be fun increasing the longevity of the game by motivating the player to do a different playstyle, try a different route or challenge themselves with higher difficulty. The thing is many (most?) games are by their very nature entertainment that takes advantage of interactivity to provide that dopamine rush, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

        1. Geebs says:

          Achievements are overtly gamification by addition of an extrinsic motivator, which seems redundant in the context of an entertainment product until you factor in players with addictive tendencies and deep pockets. Not to get too Woodward and Bernstein, but I can’t bring myself to believe that Valve, Sony and Microsoft would all go to the expense of integrating achievements directly into their platforms – and pushing developers into putting in achievements whether they make sense or not – unless they thought they could translate that into profit. Normalising these sorts of mechanics so they can be monetised is the only logical explanation.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            I have seen 1 good thing acheivements can do: they can occasionally show you ways to play the game, or things you can do in the game, that you might never have thought of. I noticed that Crypt of the Necrodancer had an acheivement for being killed by the most harmless enemy in it, and had fun looking up how (and thend dong so).

            Usually, though, they’re just rubbish. Congratulations, you finished the game’s tutorial!
            Wooo, great.
            (I once got an achievement for beating Bioshock Infinite on easy mode, after I’d switched down from easy. I can’t tell if that’s a deliberate attempt to insult me – or someone just didn’t think about what the word ‘achievement’ meant.)

            1. Sleeping Dragon says:

              I have no hard evidence but I’ve seen numerous claims that the “beat the tutorial” and similar achievements are basically used by devs to track player progression and ways of interacting with the game. For the record I don’t like them either, they actually erode my satisfaction from getting achievements that require effort.

              1. Syal says:

                I added a randomizer mod for a game; turns out it still triggers achievements. Now it’s a fun time of getting late game cheevos without getting the early game cheevos.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            Aaaaactually I can see a very simple reason for achievements and that is tying the player’s sense of investment with the platform, which we could argue might be exploitative in a certain way but I think we’d be entering an entirely new problematic territory. Kongregate had badges through most of its run and afaik none of them required engaging with microtransactions. I can similarly give literally thousands of examples of Steam games that do not require them and honestly the idea that Valve, Sony and other platforms have for years pressured devs/publishers into adding achievements to their games in the hopes to leverage that into microtransactions seems like a bit of a stretch. On that note I’d like to see any evidence that the platforms have “pushed” devs into putting achievements in their games in the first place.

            To be clear, I’ll readily admit that achievements can be used to “encourage” microtransaction purchases. Similarly I am not arguing that you should like achievements. Or even that there aren’t people who could be vulnerable to some form of achievement addiction. Just that I’m not buying into the somewhat conspirational angle you’re presenting about the overall system being created and perpetuated to lure people into microtransaction hell.

            1. Geebs says:

              According to google, Sony made game trophies mandatory in 2009. MS have NDA’d all of their developer documents, so it’s harder to prove, but it’s probably not a coincidence that if you look for Xbox games which have zero gamerscore… there aren’t any. Some gamepass games on PC don’t have their achievements but that only proves that the incompetence of the Windows Store developers is the most powerful force in software development.

              I accept that I might well be paranoid, but normalising new patterns of user spending is the bread and butter of the software industry. These guys aren’t stupid. With the exception of Phil Harrison, of course.

      2. John says:

        The very best achievements are of the “here’s a challenge you might enjoy” variety. I like those. Those have value. The rest are inconsequential.

      3. Retsam says:

        If you”ll forgive the sarcasm, yeah, it sure is sinister how they trick people into playing more of a game by putting in something that people enjoy.

        Like, honestly, to a certain degree I don’t understand this sort of argument. Like, an achievement pops up and that makes me happy and that’s… bad, somehow? Because it isn’t significant? … but I’m playing a video game, fundamentally the point isn’t to do something significant the point is to do something that makes me happy.

        The maximally cynical theory that achievements exist to drive micro-transations and make money just doesn’t seem to track since the vast majority of games that have achievements don’t actually have micro-transactions, and actually the genre most like to have micro transactions, mobile games, is also the genre least likely to have achievements. Unlike Steam/Xbox/PS4, there’s no built-in achievement platform for mobile – I’m sure some games roll their own, but I don’t think it’s super common.

        The much less cynical theory – that (some) people enjoy achievements and it’s generally very little work to add them, so most games do – seems to fit much better.

      4. Philadelphus says:

        According to Steam, in the 11 years I got an account, I’ve gotten 3,888 achievements, have 12 perfect games, and a 52% average completion rate. I’ve actually been running The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe for about 22 hours now in order to get the “Play the game for the entire duration of a Tuesday” achievement.

        I’ve also got exactly zero interest in microtransactions (of the time-saving kind), nor the kinds of games in which they typically occur. Maybe there are some mindless zombie gamers out there being lured by the Pavlovian Pied Piper of Doom! achievements into spending money on such microtransactions, but…I’m not seeing it. To me achievements (at least the really challenging ones) are more like printing out a photo you like from a great vacation: a quick reminder of an enjoyable journey you went on.

  12. Syal says:

    For collectibles, the first thing is they should have a theme to them, and stick to that theme. They’ll never please everyone, so they should be built to please someone specific. If their theme is exploring nooks and crannies, all of that collectible should be in nooks and crannies. Don’t put a bunch out in the open and a couple in nooks and crannies. Nobody wants that. If you need stuff out in the open, make those a different collectible, so the people who want easy rewards can find all of them without a hassle.

    Big rewards for big collections. And a reward people who like that thing will appreciate. Star Ocean 3 had a bunny statue that unlocked for exploring 100% of any given map; it granted permanent move speed bonus, making map-clearing easier. OR it sold for 9000 gold, when midgame weaponry cost 25000; you could scrape the first several maps, sell three statues, and breeze through half the game’s combat. That’s a solid reward for scraping your face against every last bit of map fog. Or something like Final Fantasy 6; finding and defeating the Eight Dragons unlocks a superboss, a great reward if you already wanted to fight the Eight Dragons.

    Just finished Skyrim again, which has a ton of different collectibles. I always liked collecting Dragon Priest masks and Daedric Artifacts, because those ones were unique and also locked behind multi-stage quests involving fighting things. No reward for collecting them all, but each is useful equipment on its own. I hate the Stones of Barenziah, which are based on being really attentive everywhere you go, but also requiring clearing a bunch of dungeons with no particular rhyme or reason as to which. Also hate the Crimson Nirnroot, which is just the wall-scraping version in a particular area. And the reward for the Stones or the Nirnroot is pretty underwhelming. The Stones give you more gems, but to get all the Stones you’re fairly guaranteed to be well past needing money. The Nirnroot give you extra potions sometimes, but that’s only valuable to people who don’t want to collect ingredients; guess who’s never finishing that quest to begin with.

    (The Spiderman sequel had time capsules Miles and his friend had planted. Dozens of time capsules, spread all around town, including between the train cars of an active train. It was hilariously stupid. And the reward was more lore again, projects the kids had done together.)

  13. tmtvl says:

    While we’re on the topic of gaming jargon the users don’t understand: roguelike. It’s happened more than once were I played a game that was described as a “roguelike” and I usually have this reaction of “well, it’s been a while since I played Rogue, but I played Nethack fairly recently and it had almost no similarities to this supposed roguelike.”

    1. Thomas says:

      I’m willing to bet the vast majority of people referring to roguelikes have never played Rogue, and the majority have never even heard of Rogue.

      I don’t mind it, the -like genre names is much better than the -clone genre name, and roguelike by now is comfortably established divorced from it’s original meaning.

    2. Chad Miller says:

      I once asked someone what his personal definition of Roguelike was and it included “has a metaprogression system that affects future runs”

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Yeah, that’s more of a feature of “legacy” games, right?

    3. MadHiro says:

      It’s phonetic bleed between rogue-like ( a game like rogue) and rogue-lite (a game design which incorporates incremental meta progress across multiple otherwise independent runs). Virtually everything that is described as rogue-like really should be called rogue-lite, but language is hard and our brains are thinking despite being bag’s of jello.

  14. Fallonor says:

    Collectibles almost always feel like a complete disrespect of my time, I played Crackdown early in my 360 days and it was incredible how many markers there were for places you could jump and run. I hated the feeling of this impossibly sloggy quest staring me in the face everywhere I went, even though I later managed to go back and get them all.

    I rarely like collectibles without a direct reward like a tool, unlock or a cosmetic for the character. I do not go to gallery modes to look at trophies or artifacts etc, so for me some of the very bests are unlocks for bighead mode and infinite ammo etc like the old cheat codes used to do.

    Games for me are primarily a a sensational and mechanical engagement. What a game feels like and what happens when you interact with the world are interesting and I tend to explicitly value more and weirder ways to do that. I think that’s why I have so much more appreciation for old shovelware games than my peers. I find weird bad mechanics interesting to engage with. A miss on simulation can be a hit on creating a system you can subvert for your own fun.

    1. Thomas says:

      As you dislike collectibles, would you prefer games _don’t_ have cheatcode rewards so you don’t need to bother collecting them (but the cheatcode rewards are attached to something else), or does have suitable rewards please you enough that you don’t mind them at that point?

      I don’t like tools or fun gameplay things being attached to collectibles, because I don’t want to collect them.

    2. Also Tom says:

      (Nods) I picked up Crackdown when it was one of the free games offered if you were paying for an Xbox live subscription, and yes. Same thing with Assassin’s Creed Unity, the feather quest in Assassin’s Creed II, or the spare parts in Recore.

      Having an absurd number of collectibles that you have to traverse the world to find is fine–i get that you want to show off your work. But I insist that there should be some kind of in-game unlockable map for said collectibles that you should either A. Be able to acquire with in-game currency or B. Acquire automatically after you pick up a certain number of said collectible. Hunting all over the map for that one collectible isn’t fun, it’s tedious and monotonous.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        I feel like the Stones of Barenziah in Skyrim would be better liked if there were an NPC who could give you a repeatable radiant quest to find a stone you haven’t already found.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          And if so many of them weren’t in locations locked behind long quests I don’t want to do because they suck.

      2. Sleeping Dragon says:

        This. I know, just know that there’s always going to be at least one of those that I’ll be unable to find no matter how hard I try and no matter how many times I run around the area. Just let me buy a map, or give me a lategame perk, or have an NPC give me quests leading to the collectables.

  15. rabs says:

    Oh I visited this “Cyberpunk Spire” in Le Havre a few years ago.
    It remembered me of Boneworks, I was humming “Opera De Ossium” (from the OST) in my head while visiting.
    Very fitting song for this impressive place.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Ooh neat! I would have gone to the Gloria from the Ordo Missae, but I can see the connection.

  16. Liessa says:

    I watched the Starfield presentation as part of the XBox/Bethesda showcase and was less than impressed. Then I saw the official Bethesda video in hi-res and suddenly it looked a lot better, though the character faces are still in that weird uncanny-valley space. Why is Bethesda so bad at faces? And why do they insist on shoving them right up against the screen for every dialogue encounter?

    Apart from that it looks OK, I guess. Some of the character creation and RPG aspects look interesting, though nothing earth-shattering. And while I’m not that excited by the idea of 1,000 procedurally-generated worlds to explore, I’m guessing a lot of other people might be.

    1. Geebs says:

      I think Spoiler Warning already pointed out that by Fallout 4, Bethesda’s quest design had completely degenerated into “go to quest marker and shoot the dudes you find there”. I was really underwhelmed when, after all this time, the reveal for Starfield was a guy going to a quest marker and shooting some dudes.

      Also the visual design is, charitably, exactly like if you made No Man’s Sky but without a competent art director with a clear style in mind. And your character reference was a sack of potatoes.

  17. Lino says:

    Amazing Cultivation Simulator sounds like something right up my alley! If only there weren’t so many games I’ve put on my wishlist these last couple of days… And for the record, I’d love to read what games Shamus is most excited about. And also his thoughts on the new System Shock Remake trailer.

  18. Mr. Wolf says:

    “Dwarf Fortress but based on wuxia instead of medieval fantasy.”

    Have you seen Dorfs fight?! Bruce Lee has nothing on them.

    1. tmtvl says:

      I thought they were too Romantik to fight.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Dorfs are both lovers and fighters.

  19. Aceus says:

    Don’t forget the Riddler trophies in the Arkham games. As Shamus mentioned in either Spoiler Warning or his retrospective, whatever other satisfaction may be derived from them (discovery, solving a riddle to get one, the sound of picking them up) the real reward for collecting all of them is making Arkham City beautifully clean of their green glow contamination. For the player who wants to traverse and glide over the place to soak in the spectacular sights of the city sans the eye-sucking emerald irradiance of the diabolically scattered question marks, this makes collecting the trophies into a chore, as there are oh so many of them, and oh so many of them are tied to riddles to crack in order to be disposed of-err… collected. You’re not going to be able to collect them all until you’ve unlocked certain gadgets and areas, either, so it won’t be until near the end of the game where you’re allowed to perform your final vanishing act on the last one and get to enjoy the views of the landscape without the distracting neon luminescence polluting your screen. In this sense, Riddler is the most dastardly villain to the player in the game.

    1. John says:

      I still maintain that the best and most in-character thing you can do in the Arkham games is to completely ignore Riddler trophies–at least to the extent that the game will let you get away with it. A responsible crimefighter should always prioritize, y’know, helping people over looking for knickknacks. Furthermore, as a matter of pure spite, I believe that it will hurt the Riddler’s feelings more if you ignore him than if you try to beat him at his own stupid, tedious game. He’s obsessed with proving he’s smarter than you. If he can trick you into crawling around in every patch of muck and filth in the city in the vain hope of finding some useless trinket, then I’d say he’s done just that. Don’t give him the satisfaction.

      1. Aceus says:

        I am inclined towards that view myself. Which just makes the whole irritation from the clusters of bright green spots and need to get rid of them so they stop desecrating the city even more irksome to me. If there was just an option to make them all disappear in the main menu or before starting a new playthrough, I wouldn’t have this problem. The Riddler knows me too well to indulge me that merciful path, though. Damn him and his nefarious Machiavellian ways!

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