The Outer Worlds: We Should Do More Of This

By Bob Case Posted Saturday Nov 2, 2019

Filed under: Video Games 168 comments

We interrupt our Baldur’s Gate series coverage to bring you an update on a newer shiny object.


Link (YouTube)

(The above video is by Skill Up, one of Youtube’s better reviewers in my opinion)

The below isn’t really a review. If you want to read a review, there a hundred out there. Long story short: it’s good. Some are talking GOTY contender, though that’s the sort of thing people start talking about in October so we’ll see.

Instead, it’s more like a barely-organized complaining vehicle. Obsidian’s Fallout-in-SpaceYes, that description is an oversimplification, but it’s a useful one. game The Outer Worlds has been out for a little over a week now, and its existence is frustrating to me.

Not because it’s a bad game – in fact, it’s quite good, maybe even very good. My only question is, why weren’t we doing this the whole time? What I mean is that between Fallout: New Vegas and this, Obsidian has demonstrated – to my satisfaction at least – that they’re better at making Bethesda games than Bethesda is. It’s been nine years since New Vegas came out, and The Outer Worlds had (apparently) a three-year development cycle, so in a better world we could’ve had three of these by now.

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “The Outer Worlds: We Should Do More Of This”

 


 

What’s Inside Skinner’s Box?

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 29, 2019

Filed under: Column 87 comments

So let’s say you’re a stone-age Homo sapiens and you’re having a really bad day. You’re separated from your tribe, you’re hungry, you’re thirsty, and you’re exhausted. Nobody’s invented McDonald’s yet, so you have to forage for your food. You don’t know what vitamin C is, but you do know that for days you’ve had a powerful craving for something tart.

Then you come across a plant you’ve never seen before. Fruit is growing on it. You don’t know if it’s safe to eat, but you don’t have much of a choice. You take a bite and Woooooooooooooah. It’s got water, it’s got calories, and it’s got vitamin C. That wave of euphoria you experienced when you ate the fruit was caused by the release of dopamine in your brain


Link (YouTube)

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “What’s Inside Skinner’s Box?”

 


 

Groundskeeper Dave

By Shamus Posted Monday Oct 28, 2019

Filed under: Personal 74 comments

There’s a gag from the early seasons of the Simpsons where Groundskeeper Willie – needing to enter the school vents for reasons that aren’t worth getting into – goes to the lunch lady, tears off his shirt, and orders her to, “Grease me up woman!”. Without his shirt we can see the cantankerous but otherwise unassuming groundskeeper is absolutely ripped.

This joke always reminded me of my stepfather Dave, and vice-versa. In 1985, I was distracted from my programming by a steady thumping sound coming from just outside. I looked out the window to see Dave, shirtless, axe in hand, vigorously slamming away at a low tree stump. He’d accidentally grazed it with the mower one too many times, and he’d decided to get rid of it. I’d known him since 1983, but it wasn’t until this moment that I realized how fit my stepdad was.

Dave died yesterday, in the early hours of Sunday morning, after a long battle with emphysema. He was 68.

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Groundskeeper Dave”

 


 

Achilles and The Grognard: Chateau Irenicus

By Bob Case Posted Saturday Oct 26, 2019

Filed under: Video Games 66 comments

The Grognard: At long last, here we are. Chateau Irenicus. The dungeon so nice that one of the series’ most popular mods is the one that skips it.

Achilles: So this is the one? I’ve heard of Dungeon-B-Gone, but I didn’t realize this was the place people wanted gone. I’ve crawled through way worse dungeons, to be honest.

The Grognard: It’s the repetition moreso than the quality. The first couple times it’s fine. After you’ve started your eighth new character, it’s like pulling teeth.

'Ah, the child of Bhaal has awakened. It is time for more experiments.' 'Interesting. You have much untapped potential.' 'Do you even recognize your power?' 'Intruders have entered the complex, master.' 'They act sooner than we had anticipated. No matter, they will only prove a slight delay.' I've played this damn game too many times. Also, I know about the 'go to settings to activate Windows' thing. I can't turn it off. Thorn in my side. Take forever to explain.
'Ah, the child of Bhaal has awakened. It is time for more experiments.' 'Interesting. You have much untapped potential.' 'Do you even recognize your power?' 'Intruders have entered the complex, master.' 'They act sooner than we had anticipated. No matter, they will only prove a slight delay.' I've played this damn game too many times. Also, I know about the 'go to settings to activate Windows' thing. I can't turn it off. Thorn in my side. Take forever to explain.

Achilles: I’m thinking that if this is the thing there are mods to skip, this game shows promise. Almost everything I’ve seen so far is an upgrade. The art is even better – more vibrant, more unique assets. At one point there’s a druid’s grove, then there are lavishly appointed apartments, then more dungeon, and then we scootch over the elemental plane of air for a bit.

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Achilles and The Grognard: Chateau Irenicus”

 


 

Programming Vexations Part 8: The Problem With Libraries

By Shamus Posted Thursday Oct 24, 2019

Filed under: Programming 77 comments

Whenever people get talking about the things you need in a game development language, we usually end up with a handful of features like manual memory management, pointers, low-level code, the lack of safety features like bounds-checking, and so on. One of the big items on this list is the ability to use external libraries.

Being able to use libraries is indeed a good thing. I certainly wouldn’t want to attempt to use C++ without access to a good set of libraries! At the same time, I think we often overlook the fact that importing and integrating external libraries is enormously expensive. A game developer will complain that they don’t want to have to roll their own sound library and someone will dismiss them saying, “Bah. There are lots of free sound libraries out there. Just pick one and start coding!”

While it’s true that there are free libraries all over the place, people are really bad at factoring in the cost of using them.
Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Programming Vexations Part 8: The Problem With Libraries”